Mark Hamill: You Ask The Questions

Mark Hamill was born in California in 1951. After beginning his career in soap operas, he was given his first film role in 1977, playing Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, and starred in the next two films in the original trilogy. He has since done voice-overs for more than 700 cartoons and acted extensively on stage. Married with three children, he lives in Malibu
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The Independent Online

Luke Skywalker is a farm boy, a pilot, agrees with the right to bear arms and isn't shy of getting involved in large-scale wars. Does he share any other traits with George W Bush?
STEVEN RAEBURN, GLASGOW

I'm stunned by this. The movies offer great escapism from the harsh reality of the world around us. It gives me a cold shiver down my spine to be compared to Mr Bush. Don't forget the missile-deployment system that was termed Star Wars. I thought it was ironic that this child's fantasy could be used in the real world. Some people take Star Wars purely as an escapist thrill ride, and some people will see parallels with history.

Luke Skywalker is a farm boy, a pilot, agrees with the right to bear arms and isn't shy of getting involved in large-scale wars. Does he share any other traits with George W Bush?
STEVEN RAEBURN, GLASGOW

I'm stunned by this. The movies offer great escapism from the harsh reality of the world around us. It gives me a cold shiver down my spine to be compared to Mr Bush. Don't forget the missile-deployment system that was termed Star Wars. I thought it was ironic that this child's fantasy could be used in the real world. Some people take Star Wars purely as an escapist thrill ride, and some people will see parallels with history.

Do you read or watch sci-fi?
MURIEL KELLY, HALIFAX

I read The War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man and A Clockwork Orange, so I probably lean towards fantasy. The first movies that came to my attention as a kid were the old black-and-white horror films, Frankenstein and Dracula. I do remember imagining what it must be like for actors to act against monsters that weren't there. If anyone had told me it would be me doing it one day, I would never have believed them. It was a dream come true.

Do you believe in the Force, or any higher spiritualism? Also, my friend Jason is the world's biggest Star Wars fan - I know he'd be deeply moved if you said: "Use the Force, Jason" to him...
JACK CUNNINGHAM, OXFORD

The Force is a concept that can be taken in so many ways. You can just see it as a wizard's magic, but the films tap into a lot of issues present in everyone's subconscious, and people who want to fulfil some spiritual need take it much deeper, to answer a real spiritual yearning. Oh, and: "Use the Force, Jason." If you knew how many answering machines I've done that on...

Did taking the role in Star Wars mean turning anything else down? In retrospect, did you make the right move for your long-term career?
DR ALFRESO DE PEREZ, BY E-MAIL

I think at the time I was considering doing a play in San Francisco, but I just couldn't resist the idea of working with the director of American Graffiti, and Alec Guinness, and seeing England and North Africa for the first time. The theme of The Twilight Zone, one of my favourite TV shows, is that you mustn't tamper with the space-time continuum - you must not use a time machine to warn people not to get on the Titanic or to prevent the assassination of Lincoln, because dire consequences will result. I have to ask, would I have met my wife of 26 years? Would I have had the same three wonderful children?

What do you say when people ask why you've never done anything else of note?
LAKSHMI PADMAR, COLCHESTER

Either they're not aware of my résumé or they are unimpressed by it. I've always felt I've had a great diversity in what I've been able to do. I wanted to do theatre, and you're seen off Broadway by maybe 100,000 people. Even the lowest-rated television show is seen by 5 million people. I am always most excited about the projects that I'm currently working on, and like to think that my biggest challenges lie ahead.

You've written a graphic novel. Which are your favourite cartoons and superheroes?
STEPHANIE McCRUM, WOKING

I was a big comic-book collector for about 15 years and then they became so pricey it was like collecting original art. As a kid, I loved the old black-and-white Superman but I wasn't really encouraged to have them in the house. My parents thought they were for people that couldn't read real books.

You're the king of voice-overs. What are the secrets of giving great voice?
FIONA WOOLFSON, GLASGOW

Voiceover people are masterful character actors. Because you can create a picture with your voice, I could create a range of roles I'd never have got because when people saw me they thought of Luke Skywalker. I love it because it's like storytelling in the dark. Voiceover artists refer to on-camera performers as "face actors". Isn't that wonderful?

What's your reaction when people walk up behind you and boom: "I am your father"?
LUKE DUFF, LEIGHTON BUZZARD

I'm always very personable. Yes, I've heard it hundreds of times, and no, I don't get sick of it, because it's just part of the job. I remember that that little moment is something that they will remember always, so I always try and be respectful of that.

Why do Stormtroopers wear that clumsy body armour if it doesn't even stop laser blasts?
FRED BUILTH, GLAMORGAN

Because it looks cool! They're very uncomfortable to wear. You can't sit down or you crush the moulded bum. You have to lean against the wall. I loved being able to wear that armour just for a short sequence. I wanted to play all the parts, I tried on Darth Vader's helmet!

What does Han really think of Chewie? Sometimes he treats him like a human, and other times like a dog, patting him on the head.
WILLIAM MILNE, ILFORD

Han was very fond of Chewie. It was like the family dog was flying your spacecraft, wearing headphones.

Why would Darth first try to kill Luke, then recruit him to his side?
ALI FAULKNER, WATFORD

Well, maybe he was just trying to break him down so he would be vulnerable to switching sides. It's amazing how convoluted the story has become in the new films. It's much more complex than even I realised. Some might say that Vader really did try to kill him, but when he couldn't he decided to convert him. It was certainly a very troubled relationship.

Were you happy to parody yourself in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back?
BEN MCCORMICK, OXFORD

When my kids got wind of the project they said I had to do it, and I thought: "Oh gosh, I'm going to have to go back to lightsaber school." I did say when I read the script that it would never get past the Lucasfilm lawyers. It was obscene, there were drug references, oral sex and 150,000 F-words. The only concerns the lawyers had were what colour blades the lightsabers were going to be.

Do you enjoy the new Star Wars films? How do you think the computer graphics compare with the old foam- rubber Jabba the Hutt?
HUGO DE HOXAR, BIRKENHEAD

Part of me loves the old days of miniatures and models, but you can't help but be dazzled by the new movies. It's just so elaborate. You don't know where to look. I found it a sensory overload, like my head was about to explode. But that's a good thing. If it were a rollercoaster, you'd say it was the best one you'd ever been on.

How do you rate Hayden Christensen? Is it weird seeing someone younger than you playing your father?
BRIDGET MUIR, LEICESTER

That doesn't bother me too much. But I do wonder how such a beautiful couple as him and Natalie Portman were meant to have had me as a child.

What would you warn the young Star Wars stars about their rise to fame?
GEORGIE BRISCOE, WAKEFIELD

I'm good at not intruding like that. They know what's best for them, and I avoided visiting the sets because nobody wants an old geezer going, "You know, when I was your age, we used to hold the lightsaber like this!" If anything, I'd like them to give me advice.

Your father was a captain in the navy. Was Luke's military persona inspired by him?
PAUL FORREST, DEVON

You use whatever you've experienced in life to understand a character. I certainly understood about the protocol and pomp in military life. But Luke is anything but a traditional soldier. The first entrance of Luke, which was cut out of the movie, was very telling. Originally you saw me among my peers in the team club, and they all ridicule me. I'm not shown as a formidable or popular person.My name was originally Luke Starkiller. I didn't like Skywalker much, I thought it sounded like Flyswatter.

Was it good fun being in The Simpsons?
CLEMMIE FLETCHER, ISLINGTON, LONDON

The Simpsons helps me to understand the Star Wars fan thing. I am mad about the show. I was very excited to be asked to be on it, though I didn't really want to play myself - I had to pretend that I appear in public in my Luke outfit for money, which I've never done. I was shouting to the scriptwriters that I'd been on Broadway six times! My kids had to tell me to get over myself.

What do your kids like best about their dad being Luke Skywalker?
LAYLA AYAZ, VIA E-MAIL

Well, Luke doesn't tell anyone to get their hair cut or clean their room or finish their homework. There are perks, especially for my son Nathan, who's a big Star Wars fan. He was an extra in the first of the new movies, and it was nice this week to see the premiere of Revenge of the Sith without having to stand in line or buy a ticket.

"Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith" is in cinemas from tomorrow. "Star Wars: Feel The Force" is on Sky One tonight at 8pm

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