Following a screening of the surprisingly moving documentary “The Director and the Jedi,” about the making of “The Last Jedi,” “Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson was joined by “The Director” director Anthony Wonke and, hello, noted Jedi Mark Hamill for a chat at the Paramount Theatre on Monday during South by Southwest. A few highlights:
Johnson got into the idea of a full-length doc about “The Last Jedi” after many viewings of the old “Return of the Jedi” doc as a kid. It was also inspired by a process documentary on Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Magnolia.” He wanted to participate in a movie that really showed the process rather than one that would just promote the result of the process.
Johnson and some other folks were radio mic’ed every single day on the set. “It is weird when you are going about your work, it’s amazing how quickly you forget these guys (the documentarians) are there,” Johnson said. “Even if something awful happened, at least we will have a great doc.”
Like the doc, the Q&A was also the Mark Hamill show. He’s a funny dude. Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher were together when George Lucas told them a new trilogy was desired. “Carrie slapped the table and said, ‘I’m IN!’ Hamill told the SXSW crowd. “I said, ‘Carrie, poker face!”
On the sheer immensity of the Star Wars mythos/fanbase/etc.: Hamill said he told Johnson at one point, “I’m terrified. And he said, ‘I am, too.’ That’s when I bonded with him deeply. I have to pretend that this is a small arthouse film that critics will love and the public will roundly reject because if I really thought about this, I’d just be in the fetal position in the corner. That’s how I know I’m a good actor. I look nonchalant at times when inside I am coiled tightly.”
On the alleged controversy regarding his and Johnson’s visions of Luke: Hamill says he regrets saying anything at all, but that with Luke, “you can go home again, but it was a house I didn’t recognize at all.”
Hamill on the Internet: “Don’t go on the Internet. In the old days, you would get fan mail. You wouldn’t get mail from people who wrote, ‘Dear Mr. Hamill, you stink, love, Rachel.’ Now there is the internet, where total strangers can insult you in your own home.”