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08th Feb 2023

Mark Hamill on the one piece of dialogue he got removed from the original Star Wars

Patrick McCarry

‘Who talks like this, George?!’

Mark Hamill may have come into Star Wars as a complete unknown (barring family and friends) but the 24-year-old had no problem pleading with his director to take out one batch of dialogue.

Although it was released in 1977, the movie had been filmed over the previous two years, at locations in England and Tunisia. Hamill had no previous acting credit of note but had impressed Lucas and his casting director enough to give him the role of Luke Skywalker.

The biggest name in the cast was undoubtedly British acting veteran Alec Guinness, who played Obi Wan Kenobi. Guinness had appeared in classics such as The Bridge Over The River Kwai, Oliver, Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia over the course of a distinguished career. In his early 60s when Star Wars was being filmed, he was often critical of George Lucas’ dialogue.

In a letter, written to a friend when he was on-set, Guinness claimed: “New rubbish dialogue reaches me every other day on wadges of pink paper, and none of it makes my character clear or even bearable.”

For all his acting chops, the 23 minutes Guinness appeared in Star Wars for would make him a sci-fi legend for the rest of his days. He also had a percentage of the box-office profits written into his contract, so earned some pretty pennies.

Hamill, who was greener than Guinness in many ways, also had dialogue issues in that original Star Wars instalment. In a 1977 interview on The Tonight Show, he told host Johnny Carson about one piece of the script he successfully had removed.

Mark Hamill

Mark Hamill on dialogue he got removed from Star Wars

“The dialogue was difficult,” Mark Hamill told Johnny Carson, back in 1977.

“I remember that there was one line that I just begged him to take out of the screenplay, and he finally did. Boy, I’ll never forget it as long as I live. I sometimes dream about this line.”

The line was due to come from Luke Skywalker to Han Solo (played by Harrison Ford) after the planet of Alderaan was destroyed by Imperial forces, using the Death Star. This is how it was supposed to play out:

HANS SOLO: Look kid, I’ve done my part of the bargain. When I get to an asteroid you, the old man, and the droids get dropped off.

LUKE SKYWALKER: But we can’t turn back, fear is their greatest defence. I doubt if the actual security there is any greater than it was on Aquilae or Sullust and what there is is most likely directed towards a large-scale assault.

Mark Hamill had run over the lines, back and forth, but was eaten up at the improbability and stiffness of what Luke was supposed to say.

He recalled: “And I thought, ‘Who talks like this, George?’

“This is really not fair, because you know we’re the ones who are gonna get vegetables thrown at us. Not you!”

George Lucas considered the appeal from his young actor and the line was removed, with the sentiment left intact. Ultimately, it was the film’s spectacular and ambitious action sequences [it went $3 million over budget, mostly on special effects] that drew so many in but Lucas must be credited for a final screenplay that did retain a lot of heart and [thanks to Gloria Katz] punch.

You can watch that clip, and Hamill’s great Harrison Ford impression, here.

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