MARK HAMILL speaks at the Union: “If you’re good at anything other than showbusiness, do that”
He was in Star Wars, he was at the Union, and he was charming as f**k – and he calls Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher “Harrie and Carrison”
In what was surely the highlight(saber) of their lineup, the Union hosted acclaimed actor Mark Hamill for a speaking event.
Most famous for his role as Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy, Mark is also a successful voice-over artist, critically adored for his portrayal of the Joker in the Batman video games.
Despite the queue officially opening at 2.30 and the event starting at 5pm, dozens of people were crowding around the Union building from before lunchtime. Hundreds of lovable star wars fans waited patiently for anything from about 3 to a full 6 hours to get a good seat, and Mark certainly made the wait worthwhile.
Strolling in to a massive standing ovation, Hamill exuded charm and charisma, the voice-over artist in him expertly toying with words to captivate the excited fans. Speakers officer Joshua Ellis was mostly relieved of his deft interviewing skills, as Mark dominated the conversation and the room.
In what felt like (and was later admitted) to be a speech given a thousand times, Mark described growing up as a middle child of seven, the fact his parents are less proud of him than his brother (Dr Hamill), and the charming little factoid that he refers to Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher as “Harrie and Carrison”.
The audience was treated to a number of spectacular impressions, from Ford to Sir Alec Guinness. Particularly hilarious was Mark’s charming memory of Guinness: after calling him ‘Sir Alec’ for months because of nerves, Alec slapped him and said ‘Sir is my title, not my name’ – Mark responded, ‘Well what the hell should I call you then? Big Al?!’
Later, Mark was kind enough to offer an interview to The Tab. We discussed his voice-over work, and I asked him about playing the Joker. Mark explained the challenge that goes into it, how when people ask him to ‘do the voice’ (as I was about to), they don’t realise how much work it takes to get in the mindset of a psychopathic killer. Reassuringly, he explained that he “wasn’t method, and didn’t go home and beat his wife” to stay in character.
Also discussed were his other projects, beyond Star Wars. He explained that he was creating the film version of a comic book he wrote, called ‘The Black Pearl’, deciding to do so after he asked himself “what can I do that’s really interesting that won’t take $50 million to produce?” Fortunately for his fans, he intends to keep acting – having “done Broadway, done off-Broadway, and national tours” he now wants to land a role in the West End, “the last frontier”.
Chatting to some of the people who tore themselves from the library for all those precious hours, it became clear what Mr Hamill’s fans enjoy most about him; they genuinely appreciated that he himself was something of a nerd, and loved the fact that had he not been acting in the Star Wars films, he’d probably be queuing up for midnight screenings to watch it with them.
Incredibly charismatic and effortlessly charming, Mark Hamill probably made a number of people’s union memberships more than worth it this week.
Photo creds to Chris Williamson and Getty Images