Hey folks.... Holy Shit... Harry here.... Mark Hamill, that's way cool... THE JOKER!!!!!! On AICN!!!! Mark Hamill's JOKER is the single greatest comic translation in history. That voice.... chills. Mysterio is evil, he's gotten to sit down with Mr BIG RED ONE!!! Be glad it is Mysterio interviewing, because if I had an hour, I'd probably end up talking about THE BEATLES with Mark.... but that's just me....
On the set of ‘JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK’ with MARK HAMILL
‘Learning the ways of "the force" with Jedi Master, Mark Hamill’
Like Luke Skywalker before him, Kevin Smith has always wanted to be a Jedi knight. Today he gets his wish.
It’s late February and deep inside Stage 19 on the CBS lot in Studio City, CA. lies ‘The Bluntcave’ where Jedi knight, Mark Hamill has currently hung up his trusty and elegant lightsabre in exchange for a "lightsabre"-like weapon fashioned from a giant vibrator. This, of course, could only be conjured up from the mind of Kevin Smith, who, with Jay, are going through some "Jedi" training of their own as they rehearse and run through some fight sequences in preparations for next week’s filming.
Such fight choreography is nothing new to Hamill, since his ‘STAR WARS’ days, but it’s been some 15 years past since he last wielded a lightsabre in ‘JEDI’. Today he’s revisiting familiar territory and appears game for just about anything and everything Jay and Silent Bob’s alter egos, "Bluntman & Cronic" can throw at him.
White, plastic sticks the length of broom handles, with tape masked off at areas on the stick (for CGI effects to be added later) act as weapons of choice for the trio during practice and shooting. So far they’ve spent days practicing and going over their routine for the film, which they’ll begin shooting next week.
So how did Mark Hamill become involved in the project and find himself playing opposite the familiar duo? Mark was gracious enough to answer this and more, always careful and cautious about just how much of his character to reveal.
"How were you initially contacted about this project?"
I just heard through my agents that Kevin Smith was interested in working with me in some way. It’s only happened twice in my career where my wife mentions it at the dinner table. The first time she did it was when Disney World wanted me to come down, all expenses paid for the whole family, to be the "celebrity of the day" or something and, of course, I went ahead and did it but later I said "you know you didn’t leave me much wiggle room." The kids just shot through the roof because they were so happy. And she said, "Oh yeah, I didn’t really think about that." And that hasn’t happened in almost seven or eight years. She mentioned it the same way, "Oh, guess what? You’re agent called and said Kevin Smith called." And my two boys went nuts. I’m a fan, there’s no question about it, but these boys of mine are just the ultra-passionate fans, the U.P.F.s.
"What were you’re thoughts upon reading the script?"
Well, I mean Kevin is such an original voice. I guess I wasn’t surprised that coming from him I was expecting something outrageous, but it’s just hilarious, really funny stuff. Like ‘IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD’ there’s so much going on. My role’s certainly not pivotal in any way shape or form, but it’s just one of the many elements that make it so original. It’s nice to have just a little turn.
"Had you previously seen any of Kevin’s other films prior to signing on?"
Of course! All of ‘em!
"With the many ‘STAR WARS’ references Kevin uses in all of his films, how do you feel about being a living pop-cultural icon of sorts?"
Well that’s part of the reason that he’s so interested in me. The dialogue in ‘CLERKS’ about subcontracting on the Death Star, to me, that’s the epitome of his humor. I mean he’s taking such magnificent, epic-sized sci-fi concepts and reducing them to the mundane. It’s such a pragmatic comment to make about something like that. He’s probably the first in a generation of filmmakers, where those movies by George (Lucas) are a part of their vocabulary. There’s a whole generation of them – not just directors, but writers, actors, artists. So many people say, "You know when I saw that movie I said, that’s what I want to do. I mean I didn’t know what, but I wanted to be in the business that could create that kind of fantasy."
"Do you often get recognized on the streets?"
Well, I don’t know. It’s nothing that I can control - sometimes a lot and sometimes not at all. Over the years you tend to put horse blinders on. Plus as I age, I don’t look as much as I did when I was a kid. In New York it’s different when you get recognized – they either won’t talk to you or they’ll just say (in a laid back NY accent) "Hey." In the mid-west, I get recognized much more than I do out here (in L.A.).
"When fans meet you, are they more inclined to talk to you about your portrayal of Luke Skywalker from the ‘STAR WARS’ series, or your more recent voicing talents portraying such characters as say, The Joker, from the ‘Batman Animated Series’?"
Well, the real fans know my comic book connection because I’m a comic book fan. And I also wrote ‘The Black Pearl’ with Eric Johnson. So if they do know "The Joker" then you know they’re totally a genre of people that read comic books and all that. In doing voices I kind of like the animosity. At first (with the ‘Batman Animated Series’) I said, "If you guys want to give Joker a question mark, like Karloff as The Monster, that’d be cool." I was worried that people would be prejudiced against giving me a fair shot if they knew it was me going in. So I thank the people who hired me because really when the word went around, people were like, "That Mark Hamill?!?! The Mark Hamill from ‘Star Wars’?" Of course, no one could dream that I had that ability to do voices.
"Do you still enjoy talking to fans about your involvement in the ‘Star Wars’ trilogy, or have you just about had enough talking about it?"
You know what I find interesting? Here’s the thing. You know I don’t talk about the movies (‘Star Wars’) they talk about it and to me it’s a really good insight into them because usually they’re not saying, "Oh, I like this scene or that character." They’ll relate it to personal events in their life like they saw it on "my first date, or I met my wife or you know my daughter was born on this one and now she’s this old…" It’s always really told in personal terms. There’s a girl here that works wardrobe and her story was that she lived in a housing development that was built over a drive-in movie theatre. She used to go to bed every night watching that movie – silent of course, but see how very personalized that is.
Then there’s also a whole segment of the population that probably went and saw ‘EMPIRE’ and ‘JEDI’ and enjoyed them. Maybe even saw them twice or rented the videos or something and that’s fine and they enjoyed it. But they don’t read the novels, and play the games or read the comic books or the role-playing games… I mean it really goes on and on and on to the point where most of the fans know much more about the mythology than I do. They’ll come up to me and say, "Did you know that you (his character of Luke Skywalker) married?" "No. Oh fine, he (Lucas) waits until after the movies are done to get me a girlfriend." I’d say. "No, no Mara Jade’s your girlfriend…" and they’d show me pictures and stuff. It’s great fun really.
"Where do you think The Joker might pop up next now that the show is no more?"
(Laughs) I thought he was gone - gone when we did the feature film, ‘MASK OF THE PHANTASM’ and I though that was the end. Then we got picked up for another season so I only got, I mean Joker’s probably in about only thirty percent of them. Then out of nowhere, I bumped into Paul Dini at The Golden Apple (L.A.’s definitive comic book store) believe it or not.
"Oh, I’d believe it!"
(Laughs) I said "Hey Paul! What’s the continuity of the new Batman? Fifty years in the future?" My wife made the remark, "You’ve had three franchises go the wrong way in one year. ‘Star Wars’ goes backwards, ‘Batman’ goes forward and ‘Wing Commander’ goes backwards. Can’t you get a franchise that will help us at least chronologically?" So I asked Paul, "What’s the big deal with ‘Batman Beyond’? Can’t I be a head in a jar?" I was kind of kidding because of ‘Futurama’. And he said, "Be careful what you wish for because they asked me to do a direct to video and I said I’d do it if I could do something special. And they (the WB) said like what? And I said like bring back The Joker." Now that’s really like found money because it was over as far as I was concerned.
Before we did ‘Mad Loves’, as an animated cartoon, Paul and Bruce Timm wanted to do it as a book on tape, because it was basically just Arleen and I. We’d just read the script that they wrote, and y’know it’s really not expensive to produce because you’re not doing any animation. You can pull and use sound effects. But what happened is they went ahead and did it as an animated cartoon anyways. So now Bob Shreck who was my editor on ‘Black Pearl’ and also a friend of Kevin’s has been on-set. Yesterday, I was just saying to Bob, "if we could get the rights maybe we should do a book on tape for something like, ‘Killing Joke’ or something that’s like really held in high regard in the fans hearts."
"Now with having created your own comic book, ‘Black Pearl’, have you read any of Kevin’s comic book work – either his ‘Clerks’, ‘Jay and Silent Bob’ or ‘Daredevil’ series?"
Well as a matter of fact, (Mark reaches into his bag) look at what he gave me today (and pulls out "Green Arrow" #1 a week prior to it’s street date).
"Ah, issue number one of ‘Green Arrow’."
It is. I’ve read advanced word on it, and hear its stuff that’s as exciting as ‘Dark Knight’.
"Assuming you, like most of the world, have seen ‘Episode I – The Phantom Menace’ what’s your take on the direction of the latest series, compared to the "classic trilogy" which you were involved with?"
When people say, "what did you think of the new one?" I try and keep it short and get it back to them, "Oh I think it was amazing. What did you think?" Because I think they’re much more anxious to tell you then hear what you have to say.
"How would you compare the ‘STAR WARS’ universe to the ViewAskewniverse in terms of its fan-base appeal, having now been a part of both?"
I think there’s sort of a wackier spin to the Kevin Smith world. The similarities are more than there are differences, because it’s people that are really passionate about what it is they like. It’s sort of shared commonalty and there’s a real overlap I think between the Kevin Smith fans and the ‘STAR WARS’ fans. There are also a huge number of people that like George’s movies but also love satire and love the deconstruction of pop culture, which is what Kevin does so brilliantly.
"So then, what can you say about your character in the film?"
You know, people are going to ask me what’s going on and there’s already rumors about what I’m doing and I would say to them that it has much more to do with Kevin’s comic book creations than anything that George came up with. Having said that of course, I’m not gonna sit here and tell you with a straight face that Kevin Smith doesn’t make ‘STAR WARS’ references. It’s just great fun to be part of his world really. It’s really an honor.
"Describe your working relationship with Kevin and feelings on being a part of ‘JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK?"
I’m going to be very sorry when it’s over. I’m only in one scene, but I’m just having a blast and I didn’t know what to expect. You know I got kind of nervous because a lot of times I’ve met people that you say that maybe it’s better if I didn’t meet them. You know, "I like their act or whatever." I’m not disparaging them, but I’m just saying the person doesn’t always match up with the image you have of what that person must be like. Whether it’s a musician, a comedian, an actor… or anything, the director’s the same. You know there’s a slight chance, "I’ve heard he’s a nice guy", but there’s a chance of coming away less of a fan than I am now. In a way I’d like to keep it at arms distance.
When I was on ‘Third Rock From The Sun’ I enjoyed it as a TV show and I wasn’t sure if I’d want to go into that world because then I’d be on set, and I’d meet the actors and never quite see the show in the same way again. I just didn’t really think I belonged in that world. But I went ahead and did that. John (Lithgow), by the way, played "Yoda" in the radio ‘STAR WARS’ so we had a little bit of background there and I just adore him so much that I said, "You know what? I really should get out there and do it."
With Kevin I’m just so amazed at how easy he is. Obviously, he’s such an original voice with no background in Hollywood whatsoever and to be that successful – is so encouraging for all of us who think that "Oh, it’s got to be like generations, who you know, who you’re married to and who your agent is." I think it should be very encouraging to people with just raw talent. You know you can really connect and hit one out of the ballpark. And having said that, you come in and you think, "Well his scripts are pretty much gospel." And yet, he’ll say "…and that’s when you come up and say that line. Do you like that line? How would you say it?" I’m shocked that he’s willing to be so collaborative. I think that’s just the mark of someone who’s really secure with what it is they want and who it is they are.
"And finally Mark, I was wondering… which did you like more? ‘JEDI’ or ‘THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK’?"
I think ‘THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK’ because it was so unexpected. If you knew that they were following the form of an opera, where in Act II, the heroes are defeated and everything falls into disarray, maybe you would have not been surprised. Just the fact that it was darker, deeper and more cerebral and we were asking more of the fans to come to us, rather than just giving them back what they expected – a happy go lucky, wacky sequel to ‘STAR WARS’ where everything tied up in the end. That’s what I liked about it and I was so impressed that the audience was willing to go with us. I mean, obviously it dips down in terms of how successful the movie was, and the spiritual nature of ‘EMPIRE’ - the whole "Yoda" thing. I think people really want to experience spirituality and they think it’s corny in this day and age. So putting it in the context of fantasy, they can experience these "spiritual" feelings and feel good about it. The one thing I will say about our movies is having the voice of cynicism. You have somebody there going, "This ‘force’ stuff is for the birds." That’s Han Solo, and that’s a release valve for all the cynics in the audience.
"Well Mark I hear they’re calling you back on set. Thanks for taking the time in sitting and sharing your thoughts with us."
Absolutely. My pleasure.
"My pleasure indeed."
[Here are a few more exclusive on set photos for you all to enjoy.]
Just a quick reminder to those of you planning on attending the San Diego Comic Con from the 19th – 22nd of this month. On Friday, the 20th, Kevin will is scheduled to appear from 2pm to 5pm in room 6CDEF no doubt doing his usual Q&A thing and revealing more ‘Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back’ stuff than you can shake a stick at. If his recent signing at Dave’s Video last week proved, this should be HUGE turnout and definitely not one to miss. So get there early, as it’ll fill up faster than Walt Flanagan’s Dog!
See ya there!