The Blunt Reason Mark Hamill Butted Heads With His Empire Strikes Back Director

Luke Skywalker

George Lucas is often the first individual on things when it comes to leading the Star Wars charge off camera, but it's important to remember that the Original Trilogy had other directors. For 1980's The Empire Strikes Back, Irvin Kershner led the charge, and the end result was not only critically and commercially successful, but is often ranked as the best Star Wars movie ever. Of course, making a movie isn't easy, and for Mark Hamill, he found himself at odds with Kershner during The Empire Strikes Back's shooting due to differing opinions on how to handle Luke Skywalker.

During an interview about Mark Hamill's new movie Brigsby Bear, which just aired at the Sundance Film Festival, Uproxx brought up how Irvin Kershner had seemed to believe that he had frustrated Hamill during The Empire Strikes Back. The actor subsequently discussed how in contrast with George Lucas' more hands-off approach with directing the actors, Kershner was more willing to give his thoughts on performances, and Hamill and Kershner often found themselves disagreeing. Hamill said:

Listen, as opposed to George, George is more technical and he doesn't really want to talk about motivation and backstory and that kind of thing. Kershner was much more of an actor's director, and we were both very headstrong and opinionated. So I think what he's referring to is that we butted heads a couple of times over interpretation or whatever it was. And I'd say, 'Well, fine. I'll do it your way, but I'm not happy about it and I think you're wrong.' But I loved him and I think he appreciated the fact that I was opinionated and engaged, because that's the relationship of a director and an actor, to collaborate like that.

Movie-making is a complex process involving a lot of moving parts, and having a director provide advice and guidance on how an actor should tackle each scene is one of the most integral components. It's understandable that Mark Hamill grew accustomed to George Lucas' directing style during A New Hope, but with Irvin Kershner coming aboard for The Empire Strikes Back, he had to learn how to be more receptive to constructive criticism. Despite their occasional clashes, both men were able to make a widely-praised Star Wars movie with the rest of the cast and crew.

Since Luke Skywalker only made a cameo appearance at the end of The Force Awakens, Hamill didn't spend nearly as much time with director J.J. Abrams as the other actors, so it's not like he had a lot to work with when it came to comparing Abrams to other Star Wars directors. That's not the case with The Last Jedi. Since Luke is one of main characters in that movie, he spent a lot of time with Rian Johnson, so it will be interesting to hear later in the year what it was like acting under Johnson compared to George Lucas, Irvin Kershner and Richard Marquand, the man who directed Return of the Jedi.

You can see Mark Hamill reprise Luke Skywalker when Star Wars: The Last Jedi is released on December 15.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.