Luke and Han argue on the Death Star in Star Wars Episode IV
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Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Mark Hamill looks back on uncertainty surrounding Star Wars screen test with Harrison Ford

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Jul 29, 2019

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away (California in the mid-1970s) Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford met for the first time to read an out-of-context scene from an upcoming science fiction film written and directed by the guy then best-known for American Grafitti. Neither of them knew at the time that they were about to embark on making one of the most successful, franchise-launching blockbusters of all time. In fact, according to Hamill, neither of them knew much of anything at that point. 

Over the weekend, CNBC journalist Carl Quintanilla asked Hamill to add some context to a resurfaced clip from his Star Wars screen test. The black and white footage features Hamill and Ford (who, legend has it, was just on hand to help with line readings at the time before later being considered for Han Solo) going through a version of the scene in which Han, Luke, Chewie and the gang come upon the rubble of a destroyed Alderaan. You might recognize some context of the scene, but not much of the dialogue, because the scene was later reworked to, among other things, remove Luke's admission that he and Obi-Wan don't have the rest of the money they promised Han to transport them. 

The scene itself is a fascinating insight into a version of the Star Wars script that didn't make it to the screen, but what's more fascinating is Hamill's comments on the scene, revealing that what we're watching unfold here is a case of instant chemistry. 

Hamill and Ford went on to share three films together as Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, and their Seasoned Scoundrel vs. Starry-eyed Farmboy dynamic never let up, in part because it seems to have already existed right here in this early scene. It's also amusing that Hamill noted Lucas' famous inscrutability, and his tendency to say "we'll talk about it later" just to shut an actor up, was present even before he got the job. A lot of ingredients had to come together to make Star Wars the massive, gamechanging hit that it was, but three of them — two stars and a director who just wanted them to say their lines — were present in this room from a very early stage.

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