Hamill recalled that while making Return of the Jedi, he was absolutely sure it was the end of the series, “because we had a beginning, middle and an end.” But during that period, George Lucas did talk to him about his bigger ideas for a series of trilogies – initially four different trilogies, and then three. Still, said Hamill, “I don’t even think I believed that the third trilogy would feature us. I thought it would be all different characters. To my knowledge, we were just going to do a beginning, a middle and an end [in the original trilogy] and it was over.”He compared making Jedi to the final semester of school, saying, “We knew it was going to be the last time we’d see everybody. I’m still in a state of shock that they want to do more.”When it came to details on Episode VII, Hamill remarked to the audience, “First of all, you probably know more about it than I do.” He brought up a meeting he’s mentioned before with George Lucas and Carrie Fisher last year, in which Lucas revealed his intention to make new films.Going into that meeting, Hamill recalled, “We were trying to figure out, ‘What’s he going to talk about?’” Hamill said he thought, “Wait a second, I think he’s going to release these in 3D. Maybe he’s going to ask us to do publicity or something.’ We just had no idea. But my wife said, ‘What if he says, ‘We’re going to do more movies’?’ I said, ‘Yeah, right!’ It wasn’t even on the radar for me, at all. And I had sort of settled into my elderly recluse phase of my career.”
While talking about how much he loved filming the Dagobah sequences for The Empire Strikes Back, which were shot on a soundstage with a lot of practical effects, Hamill then made his most specific mention of his involvement in Episode VII, revealing, “I’ve only had one creative meeting about the new films, but I do remember saying, ‘We’ve got to find a proper balance between CGI and old school [FX]. That’s what the challenge is, is to try and meet expectations of what you guys want. I think there’s nothing wrong with CGI, but I think you have to have a balance, because the camera perceives the width and the depth and the weight – even if it’s a miniature model, the camera just realizes that. So when you have too much CGI and the clouds are CGI and the trees are CGI and the buildings are CGI, you’re getting to a point where the figure in the shot is like a hybrid of an animated film and live-action. And I want it to have an organic look so that we don’t get into Roger Rabbit territory.” He then added, with a laugh, “But I don’t imagine that the priority is what I want!”
Hamill stressed he still doesn’t know the full plan for the new trilogy, and recalled how Lucas, when telling him and Fisher about the new films, didn’t reveal he also was selling Lucasfilm to Disney, which he learned about like most people, as the news broke to the press. But Hamill added, “They haven’t done too bad with the Marvel franchise. They did really well with the Muppets. The more you think about it, the more it makes sense. Plus, it was nice to see George seeming so happy!” Hamill explained that, “He seemed happier than I’d seen him in a long time,” especially compared to when he was making the original Star Wars and was notoriously unhappy with how things were going and compromises he had to make.
An audience member told Hamill they hoped to see Luke be a true Jedi Master in the new films, in the manner of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. Hamill said he’d love to see a Luke, “Heavy on the Jedi mind tricks, less on the lightsaber duels. That one in Empire nearly killed me!” He explained how that sequence took six weeks to shoot, “Six weeks I’m being beaten within a n inch of my life on a daily basis! It was awful!” He smiled, recalling, “And then it’s cut down to like six minutes. ‘Eh, it’s no big deal.’”
As the Q&A was wrapping up, Hamill noted he had to be careful about what he said, because something small can be blown out of proportion, using the example of when he said he felt that the original trilogy was funnier than the prequels. Hamill stressed he felt, “The prequels weren’t meant to be [as funny]. They were much more solemn. I’m glad they had their own identity and atmosphere. You just have to be really careful, because I don’t want to criticize other people’s work. I love George. I don’t want to hurt his feelings. It’s like you can criticize America, but if you go over to Europe and you hear other people criticizing it, it gets your dander up.”
He added, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, ‘Jar-Jar was supposed to be irritating! He’s irritating to the other characters in the movie!’ I defend the prequels, totally, because that’s George’s choice. He earned the right to do what he wanted to do. He became a studio. He wasn’t just the director and writer; he was the studio as well. So those weren’t sort of the movies he wanted to make. Those were exactly the movies he wanted to make.”
In between Episode 7, 8 and 9 Disney is releasing two standalone “Star Wars” films not part of the overall saga, penned by Simon Kinberg and “The Empire Strikes Back” scribe Lawrence Kasdan.
Hero Complex sat down with Simon Kinberg earlier this year to talk about his “Star Wars” visions and memories:
HC: What’s it like to be bundled in the same category as Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt?
SK: I’m not in the same category as Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt. It’s great to have a chance to work with those guys. Larry is really an idol of mine. He is, as much as anybody, the reason I wanted to get into screenwriting when I was a kid. “Raiders” and “Empire Strikes Back” were the two things that I saw when I was younger that I wanted to one day somehow emulate. So having the opportunity to be around him is as exciting as any aspect of the “Star Wars” process.
HC: Is it intimidating to work with iconic characters in a universe that’s already so fleshed out?
SK: Well, I’ve worked in franchises where they have a long legacy, like the X-Men, or like Sherlock Holmes even, where you have a big fan base, and you have a lot of material to draw from. But I haven’t worked in anything like “Star Wars.” It’s definitely like the cultural referent for our generation. So it’s daunting and exciting.
HC: So how do you approach it? Do you incorporate the extended universe or start fresh or go back to 30 years ago? Where do you start?
SK: We’re really at the early phases of figuring out the details, but the spirit of the original movie is the thing I fell in love with, so it’s the spirit of that that I think will guide us.
HC: Larry Kasdan said that what sets the original movies apart is that they’re more about people than the films that followed. Do you plan to take this new film back in that direction?
SK: Completely. I think what worked so well in all of the “Star Wars” movies is the characters. I think the reason that they’re different than other science fiction or other genre movies is because George [Lucas] created a universe of people that you wanted to go back and see over and over again, and that’s why it’s spanned and spawned so many different mediums, so many different generations, every different language. You want to go back and see those characters, like I did when I was a kid. “Empire Strikes Back” was the first movie I saw in a movie theater more than once. And I went back 10, 15 times in the theater, and I’ve seen it probably over a 100 times since. But I saw it that many times in the theater because I loved those characters. I loved Han, I loved Leia, I loved Luke, I was right at the age when I was old enough to start to understand the nuance of that movie. I think I was too young for “New Hope” when it came out in the theater, although I loved it and it was my favorite film until “Empire.” And then really, that changed my life, that movie.
HC: Which of those memorable characters is your favorite?
SK: There’s so many that I love and for different reasons. I really love Han Solo. He does that thing that Larry does so well. He’s really human and real, but also really fun and banter-y and larger than life. And when I was a kid, I wanted to be Han Solo.
Finally here’s something special brought to us by /Film!
Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan donated his original handwritten first draft of The Empire Strikes Back. The WGA West archive has the only copy in existence, other than the original, in addition to later drafts with notes by Kasdan himself. After the jump you’ll see a series of pages that the WGA West has given us exclusive access to premiere in celebration of the “May the Fourth” celebration. So enjoy, and may the fourth be with you!
On one of the pages below you will see Kasdan’s original handwritten screenplay page featuring Yoda talking to Luke. We have also been given a complimentary page from the first draft of the printed screenplay with Kasdan’s handwritten notes “Figure out a speech pattern for Yoda”.
We have also been given Lawrence’s original handwritten page for the Leia / Han “I love you” scene, which of course features different dialogue (Harrison Ford famously came up with the classic “I know” on set while they were shooting the scene.)
And lastly, we have the original handwritten version of “I thought they smelled bad on the outside.”
Special thanks to /Film for the great find!