When Star Wars: A New Hope (then just called Star Wars) opened back in 1977, it propelled then-little-known actors Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher toward movie stardom. But did you know that Hamill got the iconic part of Luke Skywalker thanks to the man who played Freddy Krueger in all those A Nightmare on Elm Street horror movies?
While at Brisbane’s Oz Comic-Con, Robert Englund shared a fun story of how he pushed Mark Hamill to audition for a little movie set in a galaxy far, far away, revealing that he himself auditioned for the role of Han Solo. Now, some of you may have heard this story before (it was apparently told in Englund's 2013 book Hollywood Monster, which I haven't had the pleasure to read), but it's still great.
Here’s what Englund told Force Material during an interview:
“Well, here’s what happened. I auditioned for the surfer in Apocalypse Now, and I was too old. I really thought I was going to nail it … I didn’t get the part, and as I started to leave, they said, 'Wait, Robert, they’re doing something across the hall with George Lucas'. And I perked right up when I heard ‘George Lucas’, because I love American Graffiti. It’s a perfect movie. The perfect film about my generation. I love it. So my eyes lit up and I went across the hall. They wanted an older Han Solo at that point. They wanted him to be like that cool uncle who just comes around once a year, you know? Luke Skywalker’s cool uncle who smokes a joint with him or something. At least that’s what they were talking about in the office with me. They just took Polaroids of me and that was it. I could tell I was too young.”
Englund then went on to explain how he managed to coax Hamill, whose name would later become synonymous with the Joker, into finally getting an audition for the George Lucas movie.
“At that time, Mark Hamill was always on my couch. He was a TV star. He was filming a TV series across the street; I think it was called The Texas Wheelers, with Gary Busey. So he was always at my place, and I knew he was home because his cowboy boots were out front. He always left his boots outside. So there he was, halfway through a six-pack, watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I went in and I said to him, ‘Look at these sides, I think you’re right for this, man. This character is like a space prince, and it’s George Lucas!’ … So I said to him, ‘Mark, you’ve got to do this, it’s George Lucas!’ I wasn’t even really pushing the space bit, I was just saying, ‘Wow, what if you got to be in a George Lucas movie, Mark? You’re the kind of actor he loves!’ So he got on the phone to his agent and the rest is history. That’s the true story. But the internet wants to make it like, you know, I turned down the part of Luke Skywalker for Mark Hamill. I would never have turned it down! F***ing Mark never even paid rent!”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
(via Force Material)