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Turns out even Luke Skywalker himself was in for a serious surprise last Tuesday. The blockbuster news that Disney had purchased Lucasfilm, giving them the rights to the Star Wars franchise with plans to make a new trilogy, took Mark Hamill as much by surprise as it did the rest of us. But don't start worrying that George Lucas is deliberately freezing out the star of his iconic series-- Hamill had at least a hint that things would go this way.
Talking to Entertainment Weekly, Hamill admitted that Lucas told him and Carrie Fisher back in August that he was planning to make three more Star Wars movies, and that Kathleen Kennedy would be in charge of them. He didn't let them know that Kennedy would become the President of Lucasfilm thanks to the sale to Disney, but y'know, that's where ethe surprise comes in. Here's how the lunch between Lucas, Fisher and Hamill went back in August, as Hamill tells it:
I thought he was going to talk about either his retirement or the Star Wars TV series that I’ve heard about — which I don’t think we were going to be involved in anyway, because that takes place between the prequels and the ones we were in and, if Luke were in them, he’d be anywhere from a toddler to a teenager so they’d get an age-appropriate actor — or the 3-D releases. So when he said, “We decided we’re going to do Episodes VII, VIII, and IX,” I was just gobsmacked. “What? Are you nuts?!” [Laughs] I can see both sides of it. Because in a way, there was a beginning, a middle, and an end and we all lived happily ever after and that’s the way it should be — and it’s great that people have fond memories, if they do have fond memories. But on the other hand, there’s this ravenous desire on the part of the true believers to have more and more and more material. It’s one of those things: people either just don’t care for it or are passionate about it. I guess that defines what cult movies are all about. We’ll see.
Hamill also included an interesting description of Lucas on set when making the franchise saying he was "not a jolly guy on set" but now that the Disney sale has gone through, "he seems to be in a really good place." Lucas was one of the most famous and richest movie moguls on the planet thanks to the Star Wars, and had complete control over the characters he created-- an enviable position that few people in the history of Hollywood have accomplished. But the pressure of complete control can obviously take its toll too, and now that Lucas has handed over the reins to the series, he can experience something I'm sure he's wondered about as much as we have: what would Star Wars without George Lucas look like?
Who knows if Hamill and Fisher will get to participate in that-- I have my doubts that either Luke or Leia will appear in the new series, at least as played by those two. But it's nice to hear that, even after all these years, Lucas still consults with two of the people who were right there with him at the beginning.