Movie Talk

Happy 60th Birthday to Mark Hamill

Movie Talk

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Mark Hamil (Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Ready to feel as old as Yoda? Mark Hamill, the man behind Luke Skywalker, is turning 60 years old on Sunday.

Hamill, who rose from little-known actor to icon with the 1977 release of "Star Wars," was born on September 25, 1951. Though some like to joke that Hamill hasn't had much success in the years since 1983's "Return of the Jedi," nothing could be further from the truth.

Hamill has had a slew of appearances both in movies and TV and he's never been too proud to poke fun at his own fame. His appearance on "The Simpsons," in which he played himself, spoke well to his good nature and acceptance of his unique kind of celebrity.

Hamill has also achieved quite a bit of fame by lending his voice to animated TV shows, movies, and video games. Perhaps his most famous character (after Luke Skywalker, of course) is the animated version of the Joker on the Batman television series. Say what you will about Heath Ledger's performance as the clown prince of crime in "The Dark Knight," there are those who feel Hamill's version in "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" is just as memorable.

Still, when you talk about Mark Hamill, it always comes back to "Star Wars." Hamill was just 25 when the film hit theaters. Hamill was originally set to play a role in the TV series "Eight Is Enough." He asked to be released from the contract so that he could have a shot at the movie because he thought "Star Wars" would be more of a success.

Good call, Mark. Not only was "Star Wars" a success, it was, for many years, the most successful film in Hollywood history. It launched sequels, prequels, toys, breakfast cereals, T-shirts, you name it. According to the book "The Making of Star Wars," Hamill went into his audition without knowing anything about the role of Luke Skywalker. All his agent told him was that the character was from a farm so Hamill practiced midwestern accents.

Hamill was in a serious car crash in 1977 after filming most of "Star Wars." The accident left him with significant facial scarring that has become more apparent as the years have passed. And though Hamill never achieved the kind of super-fame that Harrison Ford did after "Star Wars," the Jedi Master has it pretty good. He's been married since 1978, has three children, and a busy professional life (you can hear him in the highly anticipated "Batman: Arkham City" video game next month). And, don't forget, he gets to say that he was Luke Skywalker.


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