HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
Interview Today's Date:

An Interview with Mark Hamill, part 2

Bill Mumy's lost shot at liberty...

DM: Was there anything else that you had to cut that just killed you to do it?

MH: It's probably better for the flow of the movie, but I loved going to the documentary package about how the (Commander Courage) comic book went through so many permutations. You know, Courage in the Saddle, Courage to Love, Crypt of Courage and all that.

I wanted to have clips from the pilot, and instead we just have a still with Bill Mumy playing Liberty Lad.

A lot of it was because of the limitations of the amount of money I had to work with. I staged that radio show down in San Diego. I think you can hear it on the web.

DM: Yes, we have it here on Fanboy Planet.

MH: All the minutiae about the career of Commander Courage and Liberty Lad was interesting to me, because you could sort of get a feel for the overall career. But there were so many people in it, and so many aspects to it that if you expanded that area, then other things had to come out.

To be fair to everyone, including my partners, I had to keep the balance. I mean, I had friends that did favors that were completely cut out of the movie. All three of my children were in it, but my children are cut out of it.

Wait, my daughter Chelsea ended up in a deleted scene, because she really wanted to be in it. My older son said, eh, I don't care. They're blasé and did it as a favor to me. They have no aspirations to be performers. Nathan works at Bongo Comics, so he's in their booth. In one angle, you can see him over Matt Groening's shoulder. He was sort of ambivalent about being in it, so I just used another angle.

To each his own.

DM: With the radio show done live at the Con, you were able to kind of sneak Maurice LaMarche and Rob Paulsen in, at least in the extras. Was there anybody else that you wanted to have in the film, and then couldn't fit?

MH: I thought Jeff Bennett should be in it. He's a guy that works all the time in cartoons. Pamela Segall, who's the voice of Bobby Hill on King of the Hill and plays in a series I do called Time Squad, with Rob Paulsen. I wanted her desperately in the movie, and yet she was pregnant and couldn't really do it.

There's a whole list of people. I didn't even give Rob and Maurice enough to do. I was trying to find a place for them to be actors, but there was only so much I could do. Especially when we had to do the bulk of it all in four days.

Everybody pulled together, but at the end of the day, rather than going out to dinner, parties, movies, or whatever people do at night at the con, I was looking over the footage we had already done. And then planning for what we were going to do the next day. It was crazy. It was really exhausting.

Originally, I was saying, maybe I shouldn't be in it. Maybe I shouldn't be playing Donald Swan. We can get Jeff Bennett to do that or Rob Paulsen. He's just a wonderful actor.

But I'm pragmatic, too. They said, no, you've got to be in it, you're a fan. It's your love of comic books that's driving this whole thing. You really ought to be in it.

I envisioned Leo Matuszik, the character Billy West plays, running through the floor of the con in that costume. He's the soul we're bartering for. He's being pulled by the movie people in one direction, by the comic book people in the other direction. But they (the producers) felt that with my background and being known as a heroic character in George's franchise, it was just too good to pass up.

You want to give the people what they want.

And I wasn't doing it for the glory. I really thought it would be better for the story if it was Billy. I got outvoted, and I can see their point of view.

But only I could make a sponge-sculpted outfit look paunchy. There are scenes where I come running around the corner where you can swear I have a paunch. Now since the movie I've dropped about twenty-five pounds, because I went off and did a play (Six Dance Lessons In Six Weeks) and was dancing eight times a week on Broadway and out of town. I went from a 35 waist back to a 32. I look at the footage and think I can't believe what a Pillsbury Dough-Boy I am. But it seems right for a guy from Wisconsin.

Donald Swan immortalized...
art by Mark Teague
DM: Was there a specific moment during the filming when you thought, "this is working?" Because I'm sure there must have been times when you thought it wasn't.

MH: Oh, yeah. I don't think during it. During the con it was always kind of scary. Then I went to the Cocoanut Grove in Florida to rehearse Six Dance Lessons In Six Weeks. I really had to put the movie aside until we opened.

Once we opened, then I'd perform the show, come home, shower, have something light to eat and then start watching footage. And I'm telling you, it was scary, because you'd see all of this stuff and think "this is so bad. I don't know how this is going to work."

All of a sudden, out of nowhere, there would be thirty seconds where I'd be scribbling away going "oh, right! I could use this reaction from here, and match it with this sequence over here."

It was like slowly building something out of a big pile of Legos that looked like a mess all over your room. It was somewhere in the editing process. I knew the first thing we had to do was assemble a narrative. Put the scenes in that tell the story of what's going on in a chronological order, then we can do the embellishments after.

That first cut was almost four hours long. We knew it was going to come way down from that, but we also had to figure out what scenes we'd need to make sense of it all after we did the con. Like the boardroom where I go in and meet all the movie people (near the beginning of the film). That was done much later.

I had to get it all done when I still had the beard, because it was coming off for the play. Any of the stuff we had to shoot, we had to get quickly. It takes me forever to grow a beard, plus it was tinted. I wanted it to have a sepia tone, that was reddish-brown like an old faded scrapbook. I got the woman who did my hair on The Flash, Lana Sharp.

That was another wonderful thing. From Mike Richardson at Dark Horse Comics, to Bill Mumy, to Greg Nicotero who I worked with on John Carpenter's Body Bags, I was able to go back to people that I knew and liked and built up some good will with over the years. Not to do it for free, but give me the best estimate on the low end, to see whether I could afford them.

If I hadn't written for The Simpsons comic, I don't know whether I would have gotten Bill Morrison to draw the Golden Age version, or Nathan Kane to do the revamped Codename: Courage book.

All those things add up. And then being able to have Bruce Timm and Paul Dini from Batman. Even the actors who played Darth Vader, Boba Fett and Chewbacca without their masks. I haven't seen any of those actors in years. To see three of them all in one day was a thrill. I said they had to do something, just do a quick cameo. And we just made that up on the spot.

Courage in the saddle...
DM: It is rumored that you've spoken to a couple of publishers about doing Commander Courage comics.

MH: I would love to do that. I asked whether or not we could do it at Bongo Comics, and they said they really don't do unknown characters. Which is kind of a Catch-22, because I said that when the movie comes out, it'll be known.

I thought maybe we could do an 80-page giant. The first 40 pages would be the Golden Age version, and then you flip it upside down and it's the stark version. I love that idea, and I'd still love to do it. But there aren't any definite plans to do it.

DM: If you were to do a sequel, what would it be?

MH: I think it would be the story of pre-production on the movie. It would still be about how you translated a printed character onto the big screen. It would probably g more in the direction of Robert Altman's The Player. I'd probably have writers coming in and pitching ideas. I'd probably have interviews with potential directors, people trying to get me to do an MTV video of the character.

Just more in the direction of it being made and how it's being made.

The third one would probably be the actual movie.

DM: So you envision a trilogy? Because trilogies are hot.

MH: (laughing) Yeah, trilogies are hot. It just seems that the reason they work that way is because there's a beginning, a middle and an end. They almost follow the structure of a three-act narrative.

I'm really open to ideas, and I'd love for the fans to contribute. They're such a big part of this movie, that I'd love to get a dialogue going, to find out what they'd like to see. I don't see how we could go back to the convention. That's been done.

I think it would be more of Donald trying to hold on to the integrity of the character, showing the movie people footage from the lost pilot and more of the cartoon. Try and show him imparting the enthusiasm he has for the character in hopes of it becoming closer to what he wants.

I don't think Don Swan is so intractable that he would find changing Liberty Lad to Liberty Lass an insurmountable problem. He'd just want to make sure that there's no sexual tension between them, because that's not what it's about in his mind.

The fans usually have the best ideas. We've talked about it a little bit, but nothing definite at this point.

DM: You first approached Creative Light about doing The Black Pearl. At the time, they felt it was something a bit beyond their means. Are you still interested in adapting that for film? Are you interested in directing again at all?

MH: Absolutely. I wrote The Black Pearl to be a movie that's enhanced by its low budget, rather than hurt by it. If we could give it a real gritty reality, if somebody tried in real life to do something that seems so effortless on the printed page, what a disastrous decision that is. It's almost like Fargo, except instead of hiring a guy to kidnap his wife, he decides to put on a costume and things go drastically wrong.

I think it could be a really taut thriller, and I wanted to film it with hand-held cameras for a real cinema verite style.

But it's been fifteen years now. I hope that this (CB:TM) will give me some momentum to go in that direction. I'm really interested in continuing on, writing more and directing more if I can.

DM: What do you have on tap next?

MH: The very next thing I have is a show called The Wrong Coast, coming on AMC in March. It's a satire of what I call Hooray for Hollywood shows, like Access: Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight.

It's all animated, and I play Jameson Bakewright, the host. He has a sidekick, Debbie Sue. We show clips and trailers and onset interviews and so forth. It's a satire that I think is very funny. I don't have the exact date, but I know it's sometime in March.

DM: Every time you get some high profile in the news, people comment on how you've "turned your back on Star Wars." When Comic Book: The Movie sponsored Howard Stern last week, the crew there went off on that topic. Now I know that's not true about you, and people will probably still misinterpret your stance, but would you mind making your definitive statement on that for the thousandth time and probably not the last?

MH: Not at all. I've sort of laid off over-associating myself with the franchise only because it's such a healthy series on its own. I really have nothing to do with the prequels. I'm just a fan like everybody else.

I just talked to George last week. He was in the editing bay, editing the movie. He's all done filming. I said, oooh, Episode Three! How is it?

George being so low-key said, eh, same old stuff, which made me laugh. Because they're not the same old stuff.

They're very ambitious, epic, in a way that ours weren't. George called ours the most expensive low-budget movies ever made. And now he's able to have this grandeur and opulence that was unavailable to us in the days before CGI.

People forget that before those movies came out that I was a tireless advocate for them. It was only when they became a gigantic phenomenon that I thought, wow, it's running itself. It really doesn't need me.

I guess it's partially my desire to figure out if there's life after Star Wars. It's frustrating in a way, because I sort of do want to get involved. But you have to remember that we had a beginning, a middle and an end.

Even though I thought it was going to be a bunch of strangers rifling through my toybox - hey! That's my lightsaber! That's my C-3PO unit! - so much time had gone by that I was able to let it go. I don't know how the feeling got out that I've turned my back. I mostly want to respect and honor the memory of those movies, but not make a career out of exploiting them.

That's why I wanted to do Comic Book: The Movie, to appeal to the same fan base, but give the fans something new.

Derek McCaw

Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planetâ„¢
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites