When J.J. Abrams signed on to direct Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many figured this meant that the movie would be shrouded in absolute secrecy for as long as humanly possible. Abrams loves his mystery box, but in actuality Lucasfilm and Disney have been surprisingly open about the way they’re approaching this new Star Wars. Reveals from the film have been handled with great care, starting with that first cast photo just before production began. Then they opted to release a debut trailer over a year before the film’s release date. Surely that would tide fans over for a few months, right? Well just in case it didn’t, Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy went ahead and revealed some of the principal character names in spectacular fashion earlier this week.
While the particulars of the film remain under wraps, we’re starting to get a handle on this new era of the franchise. Adding to that, actor Mark Hamill recently spoke quite a bit about The Force Awakens, from his “contractually obligated beard” to his reaction to that first trailer, and even touching on his initial hesitation to return to the franchise. Moreover, he revealed that the droid from the trailer, BB-8, is a practical creation. Read on after the jump.
Speaking with Yahoo! Movies, Hamill talked a bit about the Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer, revealing that the droid BB-8 (aka “Soccer Ball Droid”) is practical:
“They never cease to amaze me with what they’re able to come up with, you know? I said, ‘How are you ever gonna top R2-D2, the most adorable droid in movie history?’ And then they have this new one… And when they were demonstrating how they did this thing, live on set — because it’s not CGI, that’s a live prop — I was just amazed. They let me play around with it. [Laughs] I was running it all around at the creature shop up in Pinewood. I’m telling you, it’s an absolute delight. And not having thought that I’d ever go back there, to go back into that world, is just – I get the chills. It’s just so much fun.”
“This is about the new generation of characters; I think that’s the most important thing. It’s the opening act of a whole new approach to the storytelling. So I never thought that the stories would be – first of all, I never thought I’d be involved in it again, period. And then when George [Lucas] said that they wanted to do more, I rightly assumed that it wouldn’t be our story, because we had a beginning, a middle, and an end. This must be our offspring and the current generation, with us there lending the kind of support that Peter Cushing and Alec Guinness did in the original. So no, that didn’t surprise me. And I mean, I’m one of those people where I just think, ‘Keep me out of it. I’ll ruin it, I’m sure!’ [Laughs] I’ll show up and just ruin the whole thing.”
Curious that Hamill uses the word “offspring” there—could this be why we only learned the first names of Daisy Ridley and John Boyega’s characters? Regardless, Hamill went on to admit his initial trepidation at returning to the franchise:
“I said to George, ‘Have you really thought this through? Because maybe it’s not such a great idea.’ But I had a feeling, I said, ‘You know what – if there’s a weak link, if Carrie [Fisher] or Harrison [Ford] decides they don’t want to do it, there’s an out. Because it’s all or nothing. It should be all of us or none of us.’ So I was ready to go either way. And now that we’re all in, we’ll see what happens.”
Indeed, Lucas met with Hamill, Fisher, and Ford months before selling Lucasfilm to Disney in order to tell them that Episode VII, VIII, and IX were coming. And how did the notoriously prickly Ford feel about returning to the character of Han Solo? Hamill says he was surprised to find the actor enthusiastic:
“[Ford] was someone that was unpredictable. I hadn’t seen him in years; I didn’t know what his feelings were. I know he’s sometimes grown impatient with people that don’t want to focus on what he’s doing currently and want to go stroll down memory lane. God knows, I’m used to that sort of thing. But who knew? And for him to jump back in so enthusiastically, I was delighted. It’s a wonderful character. Everybody loves Han Solo.”
Finally, Hamill addressed his beard that he donned for the film. Rumors have surfaced that the story of The Force Awakens revolves around Ridley and Boyega’s characters searching for the long lost Luke Skywalker:
“That is what I call my contractually obligated beard. Listen: I think they look fine on other people. It’s just not me. I mean, I never got used to it. But face foliage is almost a part of the costume. And it does bring a gravitas, perhaps unearned, but nevertheless, it makes a statement that they wanted to make, and I’m more than happy to oblige them.”
Could that “statement” have something to do with Hamill filling an Obi-Wan-esque role in relation to the new characters? We’ll find out when Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in theaters on December 18, 2015.
For more on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, click on the links below, or here for all of our coverage.
- STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Character Names Revealed in Throwback Fashion
- Disney’s STAR WARS Attractions to Be Based on New Sequels and Spinoffs, Not the Older Films
- George Lucas Further Estranges Himself from Fans; Says He Hasn’t Seen the STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Trailer
- Watch: SNL Takes on the STAR WARS Trailer with Elderly Han, Luke, and Leia
- “Original STAR WARS Fan” Stephen Colbert Explains to Ignorant Padawans How the New Lightsaber in THE FORCE AWAKENS Works
- Rumor: Andy Serkis Playing More than One Character in STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS?