Mark Hamill: Actor talks ‘Kingsman’ cameo, ‘Star Wars’ anticipation

Feb. 05, 2015 | 5:00 a.m.
img la ca 1230 kingsman  2 1 la7j7sfr Mark Hamill: Actor talks Kingsman cameo, Star Wars anticipation

Harry (Colin Firth), an impeccably suave spy, helps Eggsy (Taron Egerton) turn his life around by trying out for a position with Kingsman, a top-secret independent intelligence organization. (Fox)

la ca 0130 kingsman comic 008 Mark Hamill: Actor talks Kingsman cameo, Star Wars anticipation

Professor Arnold (Mark Hamill) is interrogated in "Kingsman: The Secret Service." (Jaap Buitendijk/Fox)

la ca 0130 kingsman comic 009 Mark Hamill: Actor talks Kingsman cameo, Star Wars anticipation

Harry (Colin Firth), an elite member of a top-secret independent intelligence organization, prepares to teach some ruffians a lesson in a scene from "Kingsman: The Secret Service." (Fox)

la ca 0130 kingsman comic 011 Mark Hamill: Actor talks Kingsman cameo, Star Wars anticipation

Harry (Colin Firth) shows Eggsy (Taron Egerton) his office in a scene from "Kingsman: The Secret Service." (Jaap Buitendijk/Fox)

la ca 1230 kingsman 028 Mark Hamill: Actor talks Kingsman cameo, Star Wars anticipation

From left, Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Sophie Cookson and Alastair MacIntosh in a scene from "Kingsman: The Secret Service." (Fox)

Mark Hamill might not have a lot of screen time in director Matthew Vaughn’s new film, “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” but what he has is certainly memorable.

In the opening sequence, which arrives in theaters Feb. 13, Hamill watches an operatically violent tussle unfold inside the remote chalet where his character, a kidnapped professor, is being held. The blood-spattered action sets the tone for the gleefully violent R-rated sendup/love-letter to classic spy flicks.

The scene likely will ring familiar to comic readers who know the Mark Millar-Dave Gibbons title that inspired the film (notably, the comic was co-created by Vaughn), though it does play out a bit differently on the big screen.

Hamill is not, as he was in the comic, appearing as himself, nor is he listening to complaints about the inferior quality of the “Star Wars” prequels. In Millar’s original script, the actor is barraged by his kidnappers about the widely panned trilogy, which didn’t even feature his Luke Skywalker.

Professor Arnold (Mark Hamill) is interrogated in "Kingsman: The Secret Service." (Jaap Buitendijk/Fox)

Professor Arnold (Mark Hamill) is interrogated in “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” (Jaap Buitendijk/Fox)

On one level, that was a relief, Hamill said.

“I haven’t done it a lot, but what happens when you play yourself, you have to analyze, who am I?” the actor said in a recent phone interview with Hero Complex. “I’m walking around the house going [lowers voice], ‘Does this sound like me?’ You become very self-conscious.”

Hero Complex chatted with Hamill about his turn in “Kingsman,” which centers on the relationship between Colin Firth as a seasoned British spy and an unlikely new recruit from the wrong side of the tracks called Eggsy (newcomer Taron Egerton). Hamill also addressed the excitement surrounding December’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which will see Hamill and his “Star Wars” colleagues Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher return to the screen as Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia, respectively, for the first time since 1983.

His advice to overly eager fans? Keep calm and carry on.

Hero Complex: Did your turn in “Kingsman: The Secret Service” grow out of your appearance as Mark Hamill in the comic book?

Mark Hamill: Mark Millar … was planning to use me in issue No. 1, not only use me but kill me. How about that? He was laying out what my role in this comic would be — the audacity of killing me off — maybe that’s why he asked my permission. I didn’t know you had to ask public figures, I thought you could just portray them, but we really hit it off on the phone. He is hilarious. I was excited by the idea of Dave Gibbons of “Watchmen” fame being the artist. [Millar] mentioned that maybe, if the movie goes forward, you’d repeat this and play yourself in the movie. I said, “Well, I’m always open to ideas, just let me know if that happens.” What eventually did happen was that plot element went away. It was no longer Mark Hamill who was kidnapped. He wanted me to do this role anyway of the kidnapped professor. It was one of those things that just fell into my lap. I don’t think Matthew Vaughn would have thought of me for this role and I don’t know that I would have gone after this role — how can you say no to a lineup that includes Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine and Matthew Vaughn and Mark Millar? These are people I’ve admired for years and was thrilled to work with them even in a cameo like this.

HC: The film offers a very stylized, very violent take on the spy genre. What did you make of the script?

MH: When I read it, I said, how are they going to pull this off? Are you kidding me? A guy gets sliced in half lengthwise with a sword? In what universe? I had no idea how stylized this would be. I thought, if they do this literally, it’s going to be stomach-turningly gory. I should have known. I did love “Kick-Ass,” and he was able to tread that line between literal violence and Yosemite Sam having his face blacked out when a bomb goes off in his hands. It’s cartoonish and hopefully fun. I think it is a throwback to the grandiose fantasy-filled spy epics of the past. Nowadays, the edict is to get dark and gritty. We want Batman to be realistic – for God’s sake, it’s a story about a man who dresses up in a bat costume. It’s just modern sensibility, that’s what people want. This to me seemed a throwback to those days of “Goldfinger” and the big spy epics of the ’60s.

Actor Mark Hamill, best known for his portrayal of Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy. (Stephanie Cornfield / For the Times)

Actor Mark Hamill photographed in 2010. (Stephanie Cornfield /Los Angeles  Times)

HC: What was your experience of Matthew Vaughn as a director?

MH: What surprised me was how amiable and down to Earth he is. He’s always open to your ideas, which you can’t always expect out of a director. Some of them are very adamant that their way is the right way and you’re there to fulfill his vision. Don’t get me wrong, he has that side of him, but he just makes you feel very comfortable and he’s just a regular guy and fun to be around. So he’s got an enthusiasm and it’s infectious.

HC: 2015 is really shaping up to be quite a year for you — first, “Kingsman,” you’re reprising your role as the Trickster for the CW’s “The Flash.” And then, of course, there’s “The Force Awakens.”

MH: I’m just a working stiff. I’ve been plugging away. Sometimes you wish, especially when I was on Broadway, people would take more notice, but it ebbs and it flows. What’s been fun about what’s been happening recently is how unexpected all of this is. I thought even if they make another trilogy they’re not going to use Luke and Leia and Han, it will be about the new generation. I’m still stunned. I did it and I still can’t believe it happened. Trickster, same thing. I was thrilled they used John Wesley Shipp – he’s a wonderful actor with a mantle full of Emmys to prove it. The fact that they’ve acknowledged the past and had him play Barry’s father was one of the reasons I tuned in. I’m a hopeless comic book nerd, so I would have watched anyway. I was watching the show, my daughter Chelsea’s a fan, so when they called and asked me to be on it I was assuming I’d play a contemporary of John’s, who knows? A university professor like in “Kingsman,” I didn’t know.

When they said the Trickster, I just had to laugh. I think they’re really smart the way they’ve handled this show,  balancing between reality and the fantasy. I said, “I don’t want it to be age inappropriate.” What looked good 20 years ago might look foolish at my age, running around. But wait until you see what they’ve done. There’s a new Trickster, Devon Graye, it’s just a knockout performance by this kid. I didn’t really see what he was doing with the role until the very last day … when he confesses his devotion to the original Trickster and how much I’d meant to him, he’d just moved me deeply. It’s just naked emotion and I was stunned.

J.J Abrams (top center right) at the cast read-through of "Star Wars: Episode VII" at Pinewood Studios with (clockwise from right) Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, producer Bryan Burk, Lucasfilm president and producer Kathleen Kennedy, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver and writer Lawrence Kasdan.  (David James)

J.J Abrams (top center right) at the cast read-through of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at Pinewood Studios with (clockwise from right) Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, producer Bryan Burk, Lucasfilm president and producer Kathleen Kennedy, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver and writer Lawrence Kasdan. (David James)

HC: Are you being approached more often these days by excited “Star Wars” fans eager to discuss “The Force Awakens”?

MH: Occasionally you’ll meet fans that feel the way I did when I met George Harrison. You just feel like if you open your mouth you’re going to lose it. You’re re-reminded of the impact that it had on some people. It had a beginning, a middle and an end for me. It was nice, but it was over. I didn’t have a problem with the prequels because it was like they’re playing with my toys but I’m not in the rec room anymore. I’ve moved out of the house. I didn’t feel possessive of it in any way, shape or form. The same when they were planning this third set of stories. I would have been completely OK with it not including us, but I do think having the original cast members there gives it a sense of continuity and scope. But mind you, it’s really about the new generation, it’s not about us.

HC: The first day you were back on set playing Luke Skywalker once more must have been incredibly surreal. 

MH: Oh, my God! It’s just crazy town. First of all, the security. We had problems before with people leaking stuff, but I was saying to them, “Is it really necessary to put on this giant robe with a hood that hangs down to your chest to go from my trailer to the soundstage?” They said, “Drones.” I said, “You’re kidding! Really?”… I wish people would just relax. We’re not trying to play games with people. We just want to maximize their experience at the movies where it should be seen and not have it leaked over the Internet. Believe me, it will be here before you know it. Forget about it, that’s my advice. Look forward to all the summer movies. I’m telling you, it’s just a movie. These people that build it up in their minds like it’s going to be the second coming of, I don’t know what — they’re bound to be disappointed.

It’s exciting from the standpoint that it’s the first of the movies in that universe that’s conceived and directed by the fan generation. We’ve never had that before. Now, Larry Kasdan is one of the old-timers like us, but the captain of the ship is J.J. Abrams and he was a fan of the series, which I find very interesting. They’re going to have an input into how things are done in a way that was impossible in the more autonomous period of George’s [Lucas] reign. I hope it’s a hit!

— Gina McIntyre

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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Comments


One Response to Mark Hamill: Actor talks ‘Kingsman’ cameo, ‘Star Wars’ anticipation

  1. Anonymous says:

    What a crappy article. What's with all the anti-prequel tone of it?

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