When Han Solo was killed off by son Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many across a galaxy far far away felt a great disturbance in the force – especially Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, who recently told RadioTimes.com he thinks killing off the character was a “big mistake” for the franchise.
“I just thought ‘Luke’s never going to see his best friend again,’” he told us during an interview on the set of his new TV series Knightfall. “You look at it in a self-centred way. I said that it was a big mistake that those three people would never reunite in any way.
“I guess I was wrong because nobody seems to care! I have to stipulate that I care, but it didn’t really seem to affect the larger audience! Luke, Han and Leia will never be together again, and I’ll probably never get to work with Harrison again.”
Hamill half-jokingly says he wasn’t too happy about his own character’s death in The Last Jedi, either. “The second thing was that they killed me off,” he said. “I thought: ‘oh, okay, you should push my death off to the last one.’
“That’s what I was hoping when I came back: no cameos and a run-of-the-trilogy contract. Did I get any of those things? Because as far as I’m concerned, the end of VII is really the beginning of VIII! I got one movie! They totally hornswoggled me!”
Mark Hamill in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Disney, LucasFilm)
Of course, despite these misgivings, Hamill is set to return to the franchise, with the actor confirmed to appear in Episode IX – perhaps in a flashback or as a good old-fashioned force ghost.
However, this future appearance doesn’t prevent Hamill from divulging his views on the increasing regularity of Star Wars films.
“In our day, it was three years apart. Now they’re two years apart, with an independent movie in between,” he says. “I say to the executives at Disney: ‘Really? Han Solo five months after our movie? Give it a rest!’.
“They say: ‘We have to keep the schedule clear for Mary Poppins!’”
After looking around the room in mock anger, he finished: “But I can be mouthy, because what are they gonna do, fire me?”
But while he’s happy to ruffle feathers at Disney, Hamill says he’s learnt the hard way it’s never ideal to be on the wrong side of Star Wars fans. Especially if you accidentally drop those four infamous words: it’s only a movie.
“I said it in front of, like, 5,000 Star Wars fans [at a convention], and I thought they were going to rush the stage and strangle me with their bare hands!” he laughs. “It was like I spat on the pope! There are just certain things you can’t say in front of them…God bless their hearts.”
That isn’t to say Hamill doesn’t understand why fans care so much about the films, mind. Far from it. “I was once describing Star Wars fans, and I said, they’re passionate, they’re opinionated, and they feel a sense of ownership, because they’ve invested so much time in these characters and these stories, and I realised I was describing myself,” Hamill recalled.
“It can get you into trouble,” he added, referring to his criticism of the franchise. “I don’t control the storylines. I’m sort of like a musician. I read the music, and I try to play it to the best of my ability. That doesn’t necessarily mean I like the tune, but that’s not my job.”
However, Hamill’s days of pointing out flaws in any Star Wars films might be over. Well, at least that’s what he’s promised: “I made a vow – I said that I’m not going to talk about the movies anymore. Because I think it’s important for the audience to see them.”
While the actor is staying quiet on Episode IX – for now – he is eager to talk about his next project: Knightfall.
In the second season of the historical drama he’ll play Talus, an old battle-hardened warrior of the Templars, brought back from isolation to train future knights.
Yet however similar this role sounds to Luke Skywalker, Hamill said the part was “alien” to his life experience. “They were so primitive in so many ways, in medicine and in science,” he says of the show’s fourteenth-century setting.
“Their superstitions were huge. There are stories about the Luciferians, who worshipped the Devil – the absolute antithesis of what the Templar knights believed. It seemed to de-glamourise the notion I had of the knights in shining armour.”
It might not have been shining, but Hamill was forced to get very familiar with Templar attire – which wasn’t the easiest to get on. “The first time it really hit me how involved this would be was at the first wardrobe fitting, where it just kept coming and coming and coming, layers and shoulder pads and a belt and a sword and an axe and those boots!”
He adds with a laugh: “The dresser – poor woman – gets winded! Every time she puts them on, she has to take a little break!”
Mark Hamill and Tom Cullen in KnightfallHistory
Fortunately, the costume department’s sacrifices were not in vain. Sure, his Knightfall get-up has a touch of a scruffy-looking nerf herder about it, but there’s little denying Hamill’s new character looks like his most menacing – and intriguing – yet.
Excited to see this play out on screen, we are.
Knightfall series two is coming to History this summer