Happy birthday Mark Hamill: 70 candles for Luke Skywalker and Joker

Happy birthday Mark Hamill: 70 candles for Luke Skywalker and Joker

Happy birthday Mark Hamill

He showed millions of kids how to follow the ways of the Force. She gave Flash a hard time in one of the most beloved superhero television series and soon has the voice of him in the Clown of Crime for more than twenty years. Mark Hamill has subtly but undeniably marked pop culture, with elegance and irony, the same with which he interacts on social networks with his fans, who today will not fail to show their affection by gathering around the actor to celebrate his seventies 'years. Born on September 25, 1951, Hamill starred both in the foreground and behind the scenes, becoming a unique character within a show biz often characterized by excesses, while remaining deeply human.

Yet, his life it was a decidedly full professional life, which led him to work on different media, always showing great professionalism and irony that have always made him appreciated by all those who have collaborated with him.

Origins and first steps

Mark Richard Hamill is the son of Virginia and William Thomas Hamill, captain of the US Navy, which because of the uniform is forced to often move his family according to his assignments. Not an easy task, considering Mark has six siblings. His father, Hamill will recall years later, raised them according to his principles, namely a fervent Catholic faith and support for the Republican Party, with a particular reverence for Nixon.

During his childhood and adolescence, the various assignments of his father forced Hamill to move frequently, from Virginia to California, with a stop also in Japan. It was in the land of the Rising Sun that Hamill graduated in 1969 from Nile C. Kinnick High School, where he had become a very active member of the Drama Club. Angeles City College, choosing the acting course.

Once graduated, Mark Hamill decides to attempt an acting career. His early roles are related to the world of soap operas, such as General Hospital, in which he gets a recurring role. His first starring role was on the sitcom The Texas Wheeler, which was unsuccessful and closed prematurely. Hamill was not discouraged, and after failing to audition for the role of David in The Bradford Family, he remains in the business making a few appearances in numerous sitcoms and some TV movies.

His luck, in this period, it turned out to be a friendship that completely changed his life: that with Robert Englund, the future interpreter of Freddy Kruger.

Being Luke Skywalker

In 1977, Englud is trying to make a name for himself as an actor by taking part in as many castings as possible. One day, after trying to join the cast of Apocalypse Now, he passes in front of a theater where they are auditioning actors for a new science fiction film. Englund decides to enter and try his luck, presenting himself for the role of a certain Han Solo, but when he sees the part of the protagonist, that Luke Skywalker, he understands how his friend Mark Hamill would be perfect to play him. Englud then suggests that his friend audition for the role, and the Force seems to be on his side, since his agent is of the same opinion and gets him an audition. As Englund often remembers:

"At that time, Mark was always on my sofa, as he was shooting a TV series across the street. By now I knew when he was home because I saw his cowboy boots on the doormat, so when I come back from the Star Wars audition, I find him watching the Mary Tyler Moore Show on TV drinking beer and I show him the script: 'Watch this, I think you were born for this role, man: he's a kind of space prince and it's a George Lucas movie! '"

Hamill then becomes the face of Luke Skywalker, the protagonist of Star Wars, a science fiction film written and shot by George Lucas, a young director who, together with names like Steven Spielberg, Brian de Palma and Francis Ford Coppola, intends to revolutionize the way of making cinema in Hollywood. And it seems that Lucas has all the cards on the table to succeed, given that his Star Wars is a real success, a triumph that also consecrates Hamill, identified by all with his role as Luke Skywalker.

Being Luke Skywalker changed Hamill's life. Star Wars immediately became a cult, so much so that two sequels were immediately put in the pipeline, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Between the first and second films, Hamill was the victim of a bad car accident, which marked him with a broken nose and a cheekbone. Immediately the first rumors appeared about a facial plastic of him to return to interpret the role of Luke Skywalker, but everything was quickly denied. The only consequence of this incident was the inclusion in The Empire Strikes Back of the scene with the wompa in the cave, in which Luke is shot in the face, a ploy used to explain the marks on Hamill's face.

Not content to play the role of Luke Skywalker on the big screen, Mark Hamill reprized the role in the radio version of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.

Even Hamill, in fact, seems marked by the curse of the actors of Star Wars. Apart from Harrison Ford, who became famous also thanks to subsequent films such as Blade Runner and Indiana Jones, almost all the protagonists of Star Wars have not managed to become leading figures on the cinema scene. The most successful role of Hamill, in fact, still remains today Luke Skywalker, a character reinterpreted in the latest Star Wars trilogy.

But the ghost of Luke Skywalker became a cumbersome figure for Hamill's career.

Beyond Luke Skywalker

After the success of Star Wars, finding new roles for Hamill was increasingly difficult. The general public now unconsciously associated him with Luke Skywalker, and could not see him in any other guise. While appearing in some minor productions, Hamill continued to be invited to television shows in which he was asked to make fun of his Star Wars character, such as in a historic 1980 episode of The Muppet Show.

Hamill then decided to give himself to the theater, taking part in several Broadway productions. A choice that led him to be highly appreciated and to win coveted awards, so much so that he decided to try again to return to the world of cinema. When Amadeus was put in the pipeline in 1984, taken from the play in which Hamill had also played, the actor auditioned certain of getting the role, but the production did not even consider him because an executive said:

" I don't want Luke Skywalker in this movie ”

It was the reaffirmation that Hamill was now doomed to remain Luke Skywalker for the general public. Hamill's acting career now seemed reduced to small appearances in minor TV series and films. After giving the face of the eccentric Trickster in Flash, a series inspired by the scarlet sprinter of DC Comics, Mark Hamill had become the classic guest appearance actor, as evidenced by numerous appearances in various TV series. There was also no shortage of invitations to reprise the role of Luke Skywalker in an ironic key, as in the comedy program Saturday Night Live.

Hamill, however, was offered a leading role in a sector that never would be expected: that of videogames.

In the early 90s the world of videogames was heading towards a new life, drawing on new technologies that made it possible to create videogame experiences never experienced before. The intros, ie the introductory videos of the games, were intended as short films that gave depth to the plot of the games. These were accompanied by the first cutscenes shot with professional actors, who acting in front of a green screen also paved the way for the introduction of CGI in the world of cinema.

In 1994, one of the most love, Wing Commander, took this evolutionary step, hiring professional actors to make these cinematic interludes. Origin Systems, the software house creator of the series, saw in Mark Hamill the perfect face for the protagonist of the saga, Colonel Christopher Blair. Alongside Mark Hamill there were other big names, such as Ian McDowell (A Clockwork Orange), John Rhys-Davies (Indiana Jones, The Lord of the Rings) and Tom Wilson (Back to the Future). Hamill played Blair in Wing Commander III: The Heart of the Tiger, Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom and Wing Commander: Prophecy, also getting a vocal cameo in the cinematic adaptation of the video game.

A Thousand Voices for an actor

Dubbing, as we have seen, soon became an important presence in Hamill's career. His first dubbing experiences actually date back to the early 1970s, when he dubbed one of the protagonists of Jeannie, an animated cartoon by Hanna & Barbera.

Despite having been a voice actor for years, Mark Hamill, however, has linked his voice especially to the sector of superhero cartoons, always in the role of the villain. From Klaw in Avengers: Earth's Mighiest Heroes, to Hobgoblin in the 1990s Spider-Man animated series, but his most successful role remains tied to Batman's quintessential nemesis: Joker.

1992 Bruce Tim and Eric Radomski brought to life what became Batman's best cartoon for years, Batman: The Animated Series. To voice the Joker, Mark Hamill was chosen, whose performance was so striking that he became the official voice of the Clown of Crime. In every cartoon in which the Joker appears, Mark Hamill has been called upon to repeat his incredible laugh, so much so that the actor has begun to have a certain passion for the character.

He has grown so fond of give him a voice even in toys and amusement parks, confessing a certain jealousy towards other potential voice actors, to whom he did not want to give up the role, even if wages were expected well below his usual remuneration. An emotion that led him to dub the Joker also in the world of videogames, starting from Batman Vengeance (2001) up to the Batman: Arkham series by Rocksteady.

Thinking back to his relationship with the Joker, Hamill is usually tell that he never expected to be able to give voice to the nemesis of the Dark Knight:

“I never expected them to give this role to the interpreter of Luke Skywalker, they are two characters exactly the opposite. So I went to the audition without any expectations. At the time I was acting in Amadeus on Broadway and I was studying a creepy new laugh for my character, so when I auditioned for the Joker I used it, and it was considered really good. After the audition I felt a little arrogant and thought 'They will never hear a better laugh than this!'. When then two weeks later I was confirmed for the role, I was initially a little afraid, but a friend told me 'You are brave, I would never want to play that role after Jack Nicholson!'. And I was even more afraid, but for me it is a great motivator! "

A motivation that led him to give life to some memorable pages from the cartoon life of the Joker, like a totally a cappella version of Only You, aware of the fact that when you play so crazy you never can. bored.

Mark Hamill, impossible not to love him

The affection of the fans towards Mark Hamill is not only the result of his being the protagonist of key roles in pop culture, but also of his open personality It is funny . In numerous interviews, Hamill indulges in amusing anecdotes or imitations of colleagues (unmissable that of Harrison Ford at the Graham Norton Show a few years ago), while on social networks he is particularly active, especially on Twitter, with funny and ironic posts.

Among other things, for years Hamill has started a ritual on Twitter with his fans: the authentication of his photographers. After seeing a large number of fakes emerge, the actor has promised to give his certification to all those who post an image with his autograph on his Twitter profile. Hamill has also revealed a trick to recognize an original autograph of his at first sight: if the signature is not followed by a stupid joke, it is surely false.

His almost boyish air, his smile and ready joke made Hamill one of the most beloved faces of pop culture, showing how there was an incredibly funny person behind the shy boy who from a remote desert planet became a Jedi knight.

You can celebrate Mark Hamill's birthday properly reselling his Luke Skywalker in action thanks to the Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga box set

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