With Star Wars: The Last Jedi soon to be released on DVD in the UK, we caught up with Mark Hamill to chat all things Star Wars, Luke Skywalker’s future in the franchise and – perhaps most crucially – what it was like to drink raw green alien milk in one of Episode VIII’s most memorable scenes…
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Mark, you recently won the Icon Award at the 2018 Empire Awards. Do you feel like an ‘icon’ now?
No, I feel Luke is an icon. I’m the host body – but that’s always been the way. When little kids are in awe of you, you try and reassure them it’s make-believe. I wish I had some of the attributes of Luke; I’m not a particularly comfortable flyer…
You know, he does things selflessly, for the good of others. I’m much more selfish, more sarcastic. He’s got a purity of spirit that I can only wish for.
You returned to play him for The Last Jedi. What would you say was the most emotional experience of that film?
Well, it’s tough. They pushed me out of my comfort zone. I wasn’t the carefree hotshot pilot any more. I had to deal with the loss of my best friend, Han Solo. I had to say goodbye to my sister. It was dark stuff.
I’m not a ‘Method’ actor and I like people: I love having fun. It wasn’t like I was morose and moping about the set, but when you had to really get down to doing the scenes, you had to go to places that you didn’t want to go.
To this day, when I see the scene where I say goodbye to Leia it just takes me out of the movie. I don’t know how the ending plays any more, because it just takes the wind out of my sails. I don’t know how I’m coping.
Gosh knows, I should be more grateful for the time I had to spend with [Carrie Fisher] rather than being sort of upset that she’s not here. Though if she were here now, we’d both be on the floor laughing. She was just that way.
OK, let’s go from the most emotional moment of the film to the funniest: what did you think when you first read the scene about Luke milking an alien and guzzling green milk?
Well, you know, it’s part of trying to show what his daily routine was! What surprised me was the expense they went to to build this thing: they could have done it with CGI and built just the midriff section.
To see this thing being flown by helicopter to Skellig Michael, I mean it’s massive! I don’t know how tall it is, 50, 60 feet tall? Four or five people operating, blowing the mist out of its snout.
I love practical effects. Star Wars in the original trilogy was mostly old school. I mean we had green screen and so forth, but most of the things were practical effects. Jabba was a full-sized puppet, almost everything was.
It was just so eccentric a moment that I couldn’t help but love it. It’s not a rehash of the blue milk, but they say these films ‘rhyme’ in certain ways. I’ve gone through blue milk to green milk.
What did it taste like?
Well, the original blue milk was what they call long life milk, which you get at camping stores because you don’t have to refrigerate it. And we were in North Africa.
So it has additives – they put blue food colouring in it – and it was really ghastly. Oily and sweet and euch! Triggered your gag reflex. But I said, “Look – if they gave me blue milk, you bet I’m going to drink it on camera, because what other chance am I going to get?” So there’s an indication that I’m an underrated actor – I gulped it and acted like I liked it without vomiting.
The green milk was coconut water, which they enhanced in post with that green colour. Much more tasty and refreshing.
Looking forward, do you know yet if you’ll be back for JJ Abrams’ Episode IX?
We haven’t really discussed it, so it’s all in JJ’s hands. But you know, there’s a certain sense of closure for me. JJ gave me one of the most spectacular entrances, certainly of my career, maybe in all of film history [in 2015’s The Force Awakens]. I don’t know if anybody’s been talked about for two hours and then shows up for 30 seconds before the end credits roll.
And what a spectacular exit Rian [Johnson, director of The Last Jedi] gave me! Now I said, “Can’t we push this off to Nine so I can have a beginning, a middle and an end?” Now I have a beginning and an end.
And when you think about it, I said to JJ, “This [final scene] isn’t even really the end of Seven. Seven is over. The scene in Seven is really the beginning of Eight.”
But all things considered, especially when I thought that we would never come back at all, you know I have nothing to complain about.
Whether I’m in it or not in it at all, I’m fine with Nine. The pressure was enormous for Eight; it will never be that tough on me again. No matter what.
If you did come back, what would you like Luke to do? Say if he were a Force Ghost…
If he’s a Force Ghost I’d love to see him used in a way that hasn’t been done before. I mean, let’s use the word “ghost”! That implies that it’s frightening. What if he…even in some other form, I think it’d be funny….well, I don’t want to give it away.
I do have ideas; most of them are so terrible that they don’t consider them at all. But like I say, I don’t know if I am going to be back. One of the [lines] that really informs The Last Jedi is, “Forget the past, kill it if you have to.” So far they’re doing a really great job. Seven Han, Eight Luke – I turned to Carrie and said, “If this is a pattern, you’re next.”
There are a lot of Star Wars prequel films at the moment, and in the last one they brought back Peter Cushing. how would you feel about your own image being recreated that way for a prequel, perhaps to play younger Luke?
I thought you were going to say posthumously! Well I’ve already told my family, “Absolutely – thumbs up!” But it is a question of propriety really. I’m sure they had to go to the Cushing estate and get their permission.
You know, it’s amazing to me. George [Lucas] gave them a canvas so large. The possibilities are infinite. So who knows?
They also ask, “What young actor do you think could play Luke?” The sky’s the limit. And I’m sure they’re going to keep making these things long after I’m gone.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is out on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download from 9th April, and can be pre-ordered now