Many likely heard Williams’ soaring strains to George Lucas’ space opus for the first time while immersed in a movie theater. But for Luke Skywalker himself, the experience was very different — but no less indelible.
It all went down in Malibu right before the film was released in 1977, as he rode shotgun in the car of Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz as they zipped to an audio dubbing session for the film. “It was a two-seater sports car with a good sound system. He put this tape in, and I was absolutely blown away,” Hamill recalls. “By the time we reached our destination, I was levitating. I couldn’t believe it. There were tears streaming down my face. I was so overwhelmed, so moved, so delighted.”
He was so sold on Williams, in fact, that he even finagled his way into a recording session for the composer’s next big project — 1978’s Superman — and instantly felt pangs of envy hearing Williams’ soon-to-be-ubiquitous themes for that film.
“Why couldn’t he have saved that for The Empire Strikes Back?” Hamill says he recalls thinking at the time, adding, “I somehow thought of him as ours.”
Of course, Williams’ fertile and historic musical legacy with the Star Wars franchise remains unmatched: He has scored every Star Wars film save for The Clone Wars and Rogue One (Kevin Kiner and Michael Giacchino, respectively, wrote the music for those) and is set to compose the main theme for the upcoming Han Solo stand-alone film, due in May.
He’s not slowing down anytime soon: The composer has also confirmed that he’ll return to score the last installment in the current Star Wars trilogy, Episode IX. And in a few weeks, Williams — already the most Oscar-nominated person alive, with 50 nods —could make Oscar history again by breaking his record and adding up to two more nominations to that list, for his scores for The Last Jedi and the Steven Spielberg Beltway drama The Post.
Hamill, for one, can’t underscore what a sheer force Williams has been to the Star Wars saga.
“Aside from George Lucas,” he tells Variety, “nobody deserves more credit for the success of Star Wars than John Williams.”