Today we'll be discussing the veteran Star Wars actor, Mark Hamill. The world is a decidedly cooler place thanks to the fact that Mark is running around, sporting an Obi-Wan beard, and gracing us with his presence. Anyone with even a sliver of nerd-cred would geek out at the chance to discuss Mark Hamill, AKA Luke Skywalker.
Needless to say, Mark's work on Star Wars is at the very top of most people's lists as their reason for being a fan. However, Mark has led a varied and interesting life, which doesn't entirely revolve around the Star Wars franchise. There were a hell of a lot of years Mark wasn't doing anything related to Ewoks or droids which is probably unknown to casual fans. Well it's about time to educate the masses. What follows are 15 reasons why everyone should be a fan of Mark Hamill.
15 He Was A Nerd Long Before It Was Cool To Be A Nerd
Before Mark Hamill blew up the Death Star and became an icon, he was one of seven kids living in Oakland California. Born in 1951, Mark was raised during the first television generation. He spent much of his childhood glued to his black and white, radiation box of awesome. He consumed Looney Tunes, children’s programming, and anything super-hero related. For Mark, tv time was like a candy sandwich topped with chocolate syrup and whip cream. As he grew older, his love of fantasy expanded into comics, horror and sci-fi movies.
As is the case for anyone seeking pure escapism - real life often gets in the way. In Mark case, his father was a Navy captain which put a damper on his whole fan-boy thing. Being a military child meant that Mark and his family were frequently on the move. Constant uprooting forced Mark to find ways to drag his passions along for the ride. Keeping the things Mark loved with him, while continually relocating, is a testament to his character. Mark’s determination to never give up comic books, cartoons, cheesy b-movies and his creative pursuits is one of many reasons to be a fan. Don’t worry; we’ll discuss the whole Jedi Master thing soon enough. Patience!
14 He Was As Wise As Yoda In His Youth
Due to the epic shadow cast by Star Wars, there are tons of misconceptions about Mark’s life and career. One such ridiculous belief is that his acting work began and ended with Star Wars. In reality, Mark loved acting and performing from a very young age. His father’s demands for Mark to be a lawyer (or to enter a soul-suckingly boring career) was something he outright rejected. Against the wishes of his rigid, military pop, Mark went into acting as a profession. A smart choice in hindsight, but his thought process went deeper than merely rebelling against his dad.
Dirt broke and with nothing to back him up, Mark set out on his own to Los Angeles. His first big break was onstage in a musical. His early television roles included parts on General Hospital and Sarah T. - Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic. Speaking of his early work, check YouTube for Mark’s guest appearance on The Bill Cosby Show…it’s a thing of obscure beauty.
Mark’s talent both onstage and on the small screen came as a total surprise to many, including his own family. Why was his talent a shock you ask? Well Mark apparently never spoke about his creative aspirations much. He didn’t want people to talk him out of what he sought to do with his life. That’s a Yoda style nugget of wisdom we should all keep in mind regarding idealistic goals. In other words, ‘haters gonna hate’ but Mark refused to let doubt or negativity hold him back.
13 Boom...Star Wars!
The fact that Mark landed the role of Luke Skywalker was obviously a very big deal. Once Star Wars hit the scene in 1977, nothing would ever be the same for anyone involved. Star Wars creator, George Lucas, would go on to become a quadrillionaire. But the three young leads, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark’s lives were all irrevocably changed as well. In Mark’s case, fortune, fame, fan adoration and lots more were deservedly in his grasp. Mark earned everything that came to him and nobody was going to deprive him of going to Tosche Station to pick up power converters ever again.
The true impact that Star Wars had on pop-culture was the cataclysmic equivalent of Jupiter smashing into earth. The theatrical release of A New Hope (which some fan-boys would condescendingly point out was originally titled; ‘Star Wars’) turned Mark Hamill into a household name. Well to be honest, Star Wars probably turned ‘Luke Skywalker’ into a household name more so, but Mark Hamill is eternally tied to the classic character.
12 A Nasty Car Crash Actually Made Him Stronger
Just prior to the release of the first Star Wars film, Mark Hamill was in a horrific car accident. The crash could have easily killed him. Thankfully, Mark had an angel on his shoulder, who was likely a Star Wars fan and thus he wasn’t allowed to die before finishing the original trilogy. The thing is, Mark’s injuries were pretty damn bad and his once handsome face was mangled. For those wondering, the car accident was in fact the real reason Luke was attacked by a Wampa in the beginning of Empire Strikes back. The assault helped explain Luke’s battered appearance.
Aside from restorative plastic surgery, Mark also required extensive dental work. It was at his dental office where he met a dental hygienist named Marilou York. Mark refused to linger on his near fatal car accident, his injuries, or the fact that his teeth were a mess. Instead he kept it moving and turned Marilou York into Marilou Hamill. The couple went on to have three kids and they are still married to this day. In short, Mark turned a nasty car accident into a chance to tell bad luck to go f**k itself.
11 Boom...Two More Star Wars Movies!
As we all know, the next two Star Wars movies were insanely successful. Aside from completing the original trilogy, the sequels also solidified Luke Skywaker as one of the all time great, heroes of cinema. From now until the end of time, Mark’s likeness will be tied to the Star Wars brand. The man is essentially immortal. In the year 3000, aliens will visit our post-apocalyptic planet, find Mark’s image on mountains of Star Wars merchandise and assume he was an ancient God we Earthlings worshiped.
Mark deserves credit for stepping up his acting game for the sequels. In terms of pure acting ability, Mark matured over the course of the series. Mark’s strong performances in Empire Strikes Back and especially Return of the Jedi gave the movies the emotional weight they needed for viewers to maintain their investment in the saga.
10 After Star Wars, Mark Remained Active (Despite What The Uninformed Think)
If you were a Star Wars kid in the 80’s or even just a casual movie fan, as far as you knew Mark Hamill vanished from the planet in 1983. Mysteriously, his disappearance came right after the release of Return of the Jedi. Was Mark simply kicking back somewhere, living it up? Or was he somehow broke and living on the streets, trading ‘Brilliantly captioned Star Wars trading cards’ for quarters?
In reality, Mark took a breather from Hollywood but he never actually took a break from acting at all. Instead, Mark took his growing family on the road and performed in multiple theatrical productions. To the surprise of many who had only known Mark as ‘that guy with the cool lightsaber’, his onstage performances were critically acclaimed. With that said, if anyone tries to tell you Mark Hamill’s a weak actor, tell them to go take a walk into a Sarlacc pit.
9 He Is THE Voice of The Joker
The most respected and popular voice of Batman’s legendary villain, The Joker, is Mark Hamill. It’s hard to believe Mark has been the voice of the legendary ‘clown prince of crime’ since 1992. That’s twenty-five years worth of Mark cackling away like a maniac in cartoon series, video games and animated movies. You have to wonder if playing such a wacked out villain for so long ever made him teeter toward the nutty side? Who cares, screw mental health – he’s awesome as Joker.
Interestingly, according to Mark, he had serious doubts he could even land the high profile, voice-acting gig. In his own words from a Reddit AMA, here’s what Mark had to say on the matter; "I thought no way would they have the person that played Luke Skywalker cast as the Joker – they are the quintessential extremes of good and evil…So I just assumed they wouldn’t hire me so I went in with no apprehension."
Once again Mark proved going for something despite reservations, is almost always worth it in life.
8 He’s The Voice of Many Characters You Probably Didn’t Even Know About
Although pretty much everyone is aware Mark has been the voice of the Joker for some time, you may not have known how extensive his voice acting resume really is. To simply say he’s voiced many other characters is an understatement. The man has performed so many different voices it’s a miracle he can still remember what his own voice sounds like.
Aside from playing himself on The Simpsons (that was an easy one), Mark was also the voice of Skips on The Regular Show, Hobgoblin from the '90s Spider-Man animated series, Klaw in Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Solomon Grundy and Trickster in Justice League, Evil Guy, Fear Feaster and Punchy from Adventure Time…you get the point. His voice-acting list drags on longer than a chatty drunk with access to a phone.
7 He Respects and Protects His Fans…And Sometimes Trolls Them
As noted in a previous TheThings article, Mark has spent decades writing all kinds of goofy, clever and sometimes trollish comments on official Star Wars trading cards. However, the fact of the matter is Mark's very gracious, friendly and genuine with his rabid fan-base. There are exactly zero stories of Mark getting into a bloody fistfight with an annoying fan, or reports of him storming off and refusing to sign someone’s Chewbacca Butt-plug.
Mark even looks out for fans that are easy targets for bootleggers and scam artists. Apparently within the world of collectables and memorabilia there are more fakes floating around than many would care to admit. Mark however does his best to help fans be aware of phonies. He even verifies fakes when possible. Back in 2015, dailymail reported his comment on the subject; “I'm so sorry there's so many fans spending their hard-earned money for fraudulent signatures... I owe it to all true fans to protect them from being victimized by dishonest dealers!” The man is protective of his supporters, doesn’t get any cooler than that.
6 He Created An Awesome Comic Series
Because Mark Hamill seems intent on delving into all the things he loved as a child, back in 1996 he collaborated on the gritty comic-book series, Black Pearl. Published by Dark Horse, Mark and his cousin, Eric Johnson reworked their initial screenplay concept into a five part series. Drawn by artist H.M. Baker, the 90’s entrenched, mature comic focused on Luther Drake. The lead is a mess of a man pushed into becoming a vigilante due to bizarre circumstances and Jerry Springer style media coverage.
At its heart, the series is a critique of the ramifications of the media acting in a manipulative and exploitative manner. It’s a subject that would resonate just as well today. (No need to elaborate, as that would be depressing) Mark has been hoping to get his unique series adapted to the big screen ever since the comic was first released. As of this writing there still aren’t any solid plans. WTF Hollywood? Hop on this project! Deadpool already proved R-Rated, mature comic properties can be $ucce$$ful.
5 He Turned His Love of Collectables Into a Web Series
Back in 2016 Mark took his life-long passion for collectables, which for him borders on hoarding, and launched a nerd-tastic web series named Pop Culture Quest. With Mark as the viewer’s guide, he travels around in search of the most insane, pop culture collections he can find. The show is basically a love letter to anyone with entire areas of their home dedicated to displaying or storing all manners of geeky artifacts. Such items BTW are typically too weird for so called ‘normal people’ to even comprehend. Good luck explaining to your friends or relatives the historical significance of a recalled copy of The Little Mermaid, which features a penis-like appendage on the VHS cover.
Mark is an inspired choice as host for the show. Aside from his legit Luke Skywalker fame, Mark is a notable collector of comics, toys, original artwork, games and tons of other types of memorabilia. According to Mark’s interview with bleedingcool, here’s what he had to say regarding the new series. “Now I have an opportunity to collect other people’s collections! I can’t wait to see what’s out there and share it with the world. Collectibles are a living history of who and what we are, so we just might learn something…but there’s no doubt we’re going to have fun!” Mark exhibits more enthusiasm for collectables than some people show for their first-born children.
4 He Friggin’ Returned To Star Wars!
For what seemed like an eternity, Star Wars fans waited for a sequel to Return of the Jedi. It was a fan-boy pipe dream that George Lucas himself denied for years would ever happen. Sure, fans had the EU comics and novels to help quench that thirst for continuing adventures. However, none of that expanded material was ever quite the same as seeing Star Wars on the big screen.
When The Force Awakens was finally announced, one of the first questions on everyone’s minds was whether or not the original three main cast members would reprise their roles. As popular as Han and Leia are, Luke Skywalker was easily the fan-favorite among the original three. Luke has always been the glue of the original trilogy - nearly every significant event revolved around his character. Mark Hamill returning for Episode VII was an event in and of itself. But the fact that he only appeared for seconds – without any geeky backlash – speaks volumes. Fans were so ecstatic to see Luke for a fleeting moment, that they didn’t even mind his lack of screen time or dialogue. However, if Luke doesn’t talk in the next movie there may be riots.
3 He’s a Charitable Guy
According to looktothestars.org Mark Hamill is no slouch in the charitable causes department. Here’s a brief overview of some of the good a celebrity can accomplish when they put their best foot forward. As of this writing, Mark’s meet and greet sessions for the Make-A-Wish Foundation helped raise enough doe to grant the wishes of several seriously ill children. Mark has also supported the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, and even donated his fee from a Dark Horse Comic Con to aid in funding the hospital’s construction. On that note, the awesome image above was taken when Mark skipped out on a promotional event for The Force Awakens. He chose to visit some sick children at a British hospital instead.
Thanks in part to Mark Hamill’s support for the #RogueOneWish social media campaign, a terminally ill Star Wars fan named Neil Hanvey was able to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story prior to its official release. Mark also lent his support to a similar campaign, #ForceForDaniel which gained media attention and was backed by other Star Wars franchise stars such as the late Carrie Fisher, John Boyega, Gwendoline Christie and Daisy Ridley.
2 He's A Twitter Master
Mark’s outgoing and quirky personality seems to have translated very well to Twitter. The Jedi Master has an impressive 1.67M followers and that number seems to only be growing. Following Mark on Twitter it’s obvious he’s clearly one of the more fun and interesting celebs out there.
Mark’s Twitter account isn’t merely a means of cheap self-promotion. Mark has done everything from posting personal pics with him and Carrie Fisher, he’s commented on politics (in hilarious ways), and he’s even delighted in collecting toys…of himself. Mark also has no issues poking fun at himself or his advancing age. For instance, in one tweet he posted a pic of Star Wars brand, Fruit Flavored Snacks and commented as follows: “I don’t know about you but I always have to eat products with my face on it – plus I had to make sure it wasn’t decades old.” Little does he know, those candies could probably withstand a nuclear winter.
1 His Legacy Is Permanently Set
Its safe to say Mark’s legacy as an actor, writer, and fan-boy is now firmly set in stone. (Or perhaps frozen in carbonite?) It would take a Death Star laser blast to shake the loyal following Mark has achieved among fans. As previously mentioned, the impact Star Wars has had on the world is immense and Mark is clearly an integral part of that equation.
Looking back at Mark’s diverse body of work, Star Wars is of course at the top of the list, alongside his voice acting as Joker. However, casual fans would do well to check into the entirety of Mark’s contributions to the entertainment field. Perhaps the number one aspect of Mark’s legacy is that behind everything he’s done, is a history of persistence. He’s always been willing to forge ahead with projects he enjoys, especially when they are related to his life-long interests. Thankfully, the things Mark digs happen to be tied to pop-culture, sci-fi, comics and basically anything nerd-related. A world where Mark Hamill actually did settle on becoming a lawyer would be way less interesting.