Mark Hamill: the ultimate fanboy

'Luke Skywalker' discusses what it's like to be one of the most iconic figures at Comic-Con.

Mark Hamill— Associated Press
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Even before Mark Hamill took on the role of Luke Skywalker, one of Comic-Con’s most beloved characters, he was already attending comic conventions.

The actor, who spent four years of his childhood in San Diego, has always loved comic books, animation and pop culture. And as a kid, his mom drove him to conventions around California where he'd line up to meet his heroes, just like so many “Star Wars” fans line up to see him.

Maybe that’s why he’s so gracious. Or why he doesn’t get upset when people yell out “Luke” instead of “Mark.”

This year, Hamill returns for his 10th (or 11th, he’s lost count) Comic-Con, though he won’t be talking about Stormtroopers or Landspeeders. Instead, he’ll be discussing a popular video game he voices and an indie film called “Sushi Girl” that he almost didn’t make.

On seeing people dressed up like Luke Skywalker: “The first time I experienced that phenomenon was with trick-or-treaters. These adorable children, they had no idea who I was, they showed up at my door wearing homemade costumes out of pillows. And they'd have their little sisters dressed up like Leia with the fake buns. It was surreal. But, you know, I grew up idolizing George Reeves' Superman and The Beatles, so I get that kind of ultra-passion, I really appreciate it.

His favorite Comic-Con moment: Hamill directed "Comic Book: the Movie," a mockumentary that was mostly filmed at the San Diego Con. For the role, he grew a beard, curled it and tinted it red. "I finally found a way to be on the floor incognito, though that lasted about an hour," he said.

Fans called out his name, but he said he could only respond if they referred to him by his character's name, Commander Courage. "The people at Comic-Con are so in tune with fantasy life and understanding alternate universes, that they immediately got it. So they called me Commander Courage and I was able to talk to them and also use that in the film."

On being a Comic-Con icon: Fanboys know I'm one of them. They get really suspicious of people who play a role and aren't familiar with the source material. But they know I let my fanboy flag fly. And a part of me will always be Luke, though I didn't count on the merchandising to be such a big factor. But I don't mind. Once you're a lunchbox, you can't un-become a lunchbox.

On living in San Diego: “We lived in San Diego for four years (1960 to 1964), which is the longest my family ever stayed anywhere. We lived in Clairemont and then we moved close to Miramar, where there was nothing but orchards for miles around. I remember we’d drive to the beach and they had just put in a Jack in the Box. We were such rubes that when we went through the drive-through the first time, we didn’t know we were supposed to talk into the intercom box.


On his new film, "Sushi Girl," which will be previewed on July 22: The movie is about criminals who get together years after a diamond heist to figure out what happened to their loot. It's violent and gritty and Hamill almost turned it down. But his college-aged kids read the script and convinced him to make it.

"I did turn it down, it was just sort of out of my wheel house. It's so violent and so grim, but my kids read it and said if I turned it down, I wouldn't be allowed to complain about not getting good character parts."

On the Joker: After "Star Wars," Hamill became famous in an entirely different genre: animation. He was the voice of the Joker in "Batman: The Animated Series" as well as in the video games “Arkham City” and “Arkham Asylum.”

"I get a delight out of it because I'm one of those rare comic book geeks who became an actor. The Joker is the ultimate character and it's been a thrill to be part of that legacy."

See Mark Hamill and DC Comics' Jim Lee discuss the new Batman-themed video game, Arkham City from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday, July 21 at the Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront.

He'll be at the Convention Center to preview "Sushi Girl" at 7 p.m. Friday in Room 25ABC.

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