Star Wars' Mark Hamill Praises Alec Guinness For Putting Up With Him And Harrison Ford

Star Wars: A New Hope Luke Skywalker Obi-Wan and Han Solo in Millennium Falcon cockpit

Star Wars legend Mark Hamill had a great time making A New Hope for its 1977 release. He and Harrison Ford weren't household names yet, they were just a couple of goofballs having fun pretending to be in space. You know who wasn't having as much fun? Sir Alec Guinness.

Alec Guinness shared his blunt thoughts on the "rubbish" Star Wars script in letters written at the time. Born in 1914, the Obi-Wan Kenobi actor was a veteran Oscar-winning actor before he found himself in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon with young Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker and Harrison Ford's Han Solo -- not that he could remember Ford's name at the time. You can almost see him thinking "How in heaven's name did I get here?"

Mark Hamill recalled those days in a new tweet, commenting on a post the official Star Wars account shared to sum up the nine-film Skywalker Saga that's closing this month with The Rise of Skywalker.

That laugh! Long before he voiced the Joker, Mark Hamill already had an iconic laugh. It's clear Harrison Ford's botched takes amused him. Peter Mayhew, not quite in Chewbacca costume, also seemed amused. Alec Guinness just looks like he's trying to use The Force to find a way out of that cockpit.

A few years ago, the book Alec Guinness: The Authorised Biography gave readers a look at letters Alec Guinness wrote while making the first Star Wars movie. Here's what he wrote to a friend in a letter dated December 22, 1975 (via Dangerous Minds):

I have been offered a movie (20th Cent. Fox) which I may accept, if they come up with proper money. London and N. Africa, starting in mid-March. Science fiction—which gives me pause—but it is to be directed by Paul [sic] Lucas who did American Graffiti, which makes me feel I should. Big part. Fairy-tale rubbish but could be interesting perhaps.

We should all call George Lucas "Paul" now. And then maybe Ringo for a while. I wish Alec Guinness were still here to keep everyone's egos in check. Considering how gruff Harrison Ford can be these days, he might appreciate Sir Alec getting his name wrong in this next letter excerpt, from March 18, 1976:

Can’t say I’m enjoying the film. … new rubbish dialogue reaches me every other day on wadges of pink paper—and none of it makes my character clear or even bearable. I just think, thankfully, of the lovely bread, which will help me keep going until next April even if Yahoo collapses in a week.

(In case you're confused, no he doesn't mean the Yahoo of today. Yahoo was a play Alec Guinness was in.) The rest of that part of the letter showed him getting names wrong and lamenting how the young cast made him feel so old:

I must off to studio and work with a dwarf (very sweet—and he has to wash in a bidet) and your fellow countrymen Mark Hamill and Tennyson (that can’t be right) Ford. Ellison (?—No!)—well, a rangy, languid young man who is probably intelligent and amusing. But Oh, God, God, they make me feel ninety—and treat me as if I was 106.—Oh, Harrison Ford—ever heard of him?

That fascinates me, from the perspective of late 2019. Now Mark Hamill and -- especially -- Billy Dee Williams are the "old" men of Star Wars: Episode IX. If Harrison Ford's Han Solo weren't killed off in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Carrie Fisher had lived to see The Rise of Skywalker as she so should have, then they would be the ones feeling ninety opposite Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac.

I don't blame Alec Guinness for not seeing the potential of Star Wars at the script stage. Some of the dialogue really is kind of rubbish, but it's our rubbish, bless it. No one really saw this becoming a phenomenon (besides maybe "Paul" Lucas). And either Guinness' opinion on Star Wars changed after he saw the finished product or he was just more gentle with his feelings in public, because he later gave an interview about how he felt when he watched the first movie for the first time:

There's a sort of wonderful freshness about it... like a wonderful fresh air. When I came out of the cinema... I thought, 'London's sort of gritty, and dirty and sort of rubbish, isn't it?' Because this had all been so invigorating.

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And it's not like Alec Guinness didn't have any fun on set himself. Mark Hamill previously shared a story of a time Guinness helped him pull off a great prank on set.

Sadly, we lost Alec Guinness in 2000, but Obi-Wan lives on through Ewan McGregor, who played the role in George Lucas' prequel films and has his own series coming up on Disney+. Fans still love Obi-Wan and even thought they saw him in the new Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker poster. The final movie in this nine-film saga arrives December 20.

Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.