Luke Skywalker star Mark Hamill sets world record for largest Comic Con panel

Jordan Strauss
In this Dec. 14, 2015 file photo, Mark Hamill arrives at the world premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in Los Angeles. Hamill’s Comic Con panel in Salt Lake City was the largest in history. (Associated Press)

The 2016 Salt Lake Comic Con’s panel with renowned actor Mark Hamill was “the largest Comic Con panel in the history of the world,” according to the Hamill’s introducer. The panel filled about two-thirds of the Salt Lake Vivint Arena, which seats a little over 19,000.

Hamill is known for playing Luke Skywalker in episodes four, five and six of “Star Wars,” among other characters in his career.

Several times throughout the panel, Hamill referenced how he was unable to share information about future “Star Wars” movies.

“After all you go through to get here today — you get babysitters for the kids, make sure the pets are taken care of — you come here for one fact about a movie I’m contractually forbidden to talk about,” Hamill said.

But his inability to provide spoilers didn’t stop Hamill from sharing details about his past experiences playing his most well-known role as Luke Skywalker.

Originally, Hamill was one of the only individuals who knew Darth Vader was Luke’s father. Because the actor for Darth Vader David Prowse was notorious for leaking information, George Lucas had Darth Vader say instead that Obi-Wan had killed Luke’s father. Later, they dubbed over this line with the famous, “Luke, I am your father.”

Hamill also revealed that he did not know “until way too late” that Leia was his sister. He said for his character, it was traumatic.

“The good news is there’s a beautiful, eligible girl in the galaxy. The bad news is she’s your sister,” Hamill said. “So good luck with that.”

Hamill didn’t expect to be doing another “Star Wars” movie. He said he was at the point where he was the “guy in the shorts with a metal detector telling the kids to get off my lawn.”

“So George (Lucas) says (at lunch), ‘You know, I think they want to make another trilogy, and if you don’t want to do it, we won’t recast. We’ll write your character out,’” Hamill said. “I didn’t show any reaction. Carrie Fisher of course went, ‘I’m in!’”

The movies would either have all of the trio — Luke, Princess Leia, and Han Solo — or none of them. Hamill wasn’t too worried because he didn’t believe Harrison Ford would sign on.

“(Harrison Ford’s) way too rich and cynical,” Hamill thought. “That’s my out.”

But when Hamill discovered Harrison Ford did join, he said, “… I’ve been drafted.”

Trolling fans about future “Star Wars” movies is one of Hamill’s favorite hobbies. He told one story about how he tweeted happy birthday to John Boyega, who plays “Star Wars” character Finn, saying that he was “sonsational.”

Mark Hamill composed this tweet for John
Mark Hamill said in the Comic Con panel that he enjoys trolling his fans. He composed this tweet for “Star Wars” Finn character John Boyega’s birthday, questioning whether it was a typo or a spoiler. (Mark Hamill/Twitter)

“You should know by now, don’t believe a word I say. I’m a professional liar,” said Hamill. “No really. I get paid for making stuff up. Why would anyone believe me?”

Yet despite his joking, Hamill admitted he loves his work. He said it’s his “happy place.” The star referenced the audience as a whole as being individuals who loved living in a world of imagination.

“You wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t really important to escape reality,” Hamill said, referencing the negativity of news and violence in the news.

Brothers Garrett, Tim, Greg and Mark cosplay 'Star Wars.' They come every year as part of a tradition.
Brothers Garrett Young, Tim Young, Greg Young and Mark Young cosplay “Star Wars” characters at the Salt Lake Comic Con. They come every year as part of a tradition. (Jessica Olsen)

The Salt Lake Comic Con provides a way for individuals to do just that. And with the revival of “Star Wars,” the cosplay community upped its game. BYU alumni Garrett Young and Greg Young, along with their brothers Tim Young and Matthew Young, visit and dress up for Comic Con every year as part of a tradition.

“This is our yearly reunion,” Garrett said.

The brothers tried paying for photo ops with Hamill months in advance, but because of Hamill’s popularity, the photo op was sold out. However, after seeing the passion and energy of the crowd, Hamill offered to do 100 extra photo ops with fans.

“That’s just awesome that he would do that for his fans,” Tim said.

Garret agreed that adding the photo ops shows that Hamill genuinely cares about his fans.

It’s because of this love that Hamill likes to keep out spoilers and makes sure the surprises of the future “Star Wars” movies happen in the theaters.

“Fun is in the movie theaters, not on the internet,” he said.

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