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Awesome Men Throughout History: Mark Hamill

hamill1Mark Hamill really shouldn’t be as obscure as he is. I mean, the guy was Luke Skywalker. In a sane and rational universe, the focal point of the original Star Wars trilogy shouldn’t, at the end of the day, be just another working actor.

Well, maybe obscure isn’t the right word. But Hamill isn’t a guy you’d instantly recognize in line at the bank, and his name requires a bit of explanation for most people, whereas Harrison Ford’s does not.

However, Hamill’s acceptance of this is what makes him such a cool guy, not to mention this week’s Awesome Man Throughout History.

For a little background, Hamill was born to a military family (his dad was in the Navy) and moved around a lot before getting into show business. Apparently he was on the pilot episode of Eight Is Enough and showed up on The Partridge Family, the poor bastard.

Anyway, Hamill was actually trying out for Apocalypse Now, believe it or not, when he was spotted by George Lucas and encouraged to audition for Star Wars. That pretty much brings us up to speed.

Honestly, part of Hamill’s relative non-fame was intentional. He didn’t want the Luke Skywalker character to pigeonhole him into one type of role for the rest of his career, so he used the momentum he gained from Star Wars to do as much other stuff as he could. He acted on Broadway, appeared on television, and took roles in films that were as far away from epic space opera as possible.

Hamill is also a fantastic voice actor, most notably as the Joker in the modern Batman cartoons, and in the Arkham Asylum and Arkham City video games. Honestly, he’s the best Joker. No offense to Heath Ledger, who was awesome, but Hamill’s voice strikes the perfect balance between Joker’s sociopathic criminality and his absurd sense of humor.

Hamill has said that he treated the Joker’s laugh like a musical instrument, and practiced laughing maniacally in his car on the way to recording sessions. That is adorable. And to paraphrase Patton Oswalt, if the FBI has a bug in Mark’s car, that tape is their office Christmas card every year.

As of this year, Mark Hamill has a role in the upcoming Disney version of Star Wars, which he seems cautiously excited about. Again, it never seemed like he was hiding from Luke Skywalker—he’s parodied that role numerous times, in fact—he just didn’t want to Carrie Bradshaw himself, or end up hating that role the way Jason Alexander hates George Costanza.

I’ll leave you with this video of Hamill talking about doing the Joker’s voice, in which he admits a fear of clowns. Him and everyone else, it would seem.

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About Dave Kiefaber Dave Kiefaber is a Baltimore-based writer who regularly contributes to Adfreak and the Gettysburg Times. His personal website is at www.beeohdee.blogspot.com.

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