Robert Englund Reveals How He Helped Mark Hamill Land The Role Of Luke Skywalker In Star Wars

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker/Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger
(Image credit: Lucasfilm/New Line Cinema)

In the history of Hollywood there are certain actors who become so attached to roles they played that it becomes essentially impossible to think of the actor and the character as separate people or to think of anybody else playing the role. Will Smith as Neo in The Matrix just doesn’t seem right considering that came awfully close to happening. Mark Hamill will always be Luke Skywalker first and foremost, and he has Freddy Krueger to thank for it.

Robert Englund recently answered questions from fans in The Guardian and he was asked about the often reported story that he had auditioned to play Han Solo in Star Wars. Englund explains that he had actually been there to audition for Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, but that Star Wars was holding auditions at the same time in the same building. As a fan of American Graffiti, Englund took the chance to audition for George Lucas, but it was clear very quickly that he wouldn’t be in Star Wars. However, Englund then made a very fateful decision that would change Hollywood forever. He explained…

But as I left, I snatched the audition sides [script excerpt] for this much younger character called Luke Skywalker. I went back to my apartment in the Hollywood Hills and my buddy Mark Hamill’s cowboy boots were on my front porch. He was working down the hill at the CBS studios as a very successful television actor. Mark was watching the Bob Newhart or Mary Tyler Moore show. We’d watch together in the afternoon and then call our agents at 5pm to see how our auditions had gone. I remember saying: “Guess what? George Lucas is making this space movie.” We both loved American Graffiti, so Mark called his agent and put her under pressure to get him an audition. It’s a bit like the Tarantino movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I was living at that time with Jan Fischer, who went on to The Lost Boys; our best friend became Luke Skywalker; and I became Freddy Krueger. At the time, we were just three young people living in the Hollywood Hills with big dreams.

It certainly sounds from this description that Mark Hamill wasn’t aware of Star Wars and would not have auditioned had Robert Englund not let him know about it. And while Hamill certainly auditioned for the role and got it on his own, who knows, maybe Englund grabbing those asides gave Mark Hamill the ability to prepare for the audition in a way that gave him an edge.

Within Star Wars alone there are numerous stories of casting decisions that might have happened. Joseph Fiennes as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequels, Christopher Walken or Tom Selleck as Han Solo. Perhaps these choices could have become as iconic as the ones we got, or maybe Star Wars would never have become the phenomenon that it did with a different cast. 45 years later, while Mark Hamill has had a successful career doing things other than Star Wars, he’ll always be Luke Skywalker first.  

With new Star Wars TV series happening on a regular basis, and maybe a new Star Wars movie coming someday, there will continue to be chances for new stars to create iconic characters. Those actors will be lucky if they have a friend as good as Robert Englund.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.