What If Mark Hamill & Carrie Fisher Didn't Want To Return For 'Star Wars: Episode VII'?

Last night the Salt Lake Comic-Con kicked off over in Utah, and one of the first guests of honor was Star Wars saga star Mark Hamill. The actor took the stage for a panel that he wanted to be "more like an intimate conversation." As Hamill said to kick off the panel, "I want to talk to you like you are sitting in my living room. Exactly as if you were sitting in my living room, but I won't be serving snacks and no, you can't use the bathroom."

Sadly, Hamill did not divulge even the smallest bit of information about Star Wars: Episode VIII, but that doesn't mean he didn't talk about the iconic film franchise that gave him the career he has today. In fact, Hamill took the time to recall how George Lucas called him and Carrie Fisher to let them know that he was selling Lucasfilm to Disney, and that a new Star Wars trilogy was likely going into development with or without them. Hamill has told this story before, but this time he included an interesting detail. What if Mark Hamill didn't return for Star Wars Episode VII?

KUTV (via StarWarsNewsNet) was in attendance at the panel and they called our attention to some of the finer points, specifically about the meeting George Lucas called with Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher while they were in Florida attending Star Wars Celebration back in 2012. Hamill has previously talked about how shocked he was that more Star Wars movies were going to be made, and this time he elaborated a bit more about his amusement regarding the whole idea:

I laughed and laughed and laughed because [Lucas] had specifically told me... 'We're not going to be doing any more. I don't want to be doing these things in my 70s.'

But here George Lucas was telling Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher that more movies were going to be made, but this time without Lucas at the helm. So this meeting was all about seeing if the two stars from the original trilogy would be game to return for more movies if he wasn't involved. Hamill revealed how he played it cool when the question was posted, but Fisher didn't hold anything back:

Now I kept a real poker face. I felt like someone hit me in the stomach really hard, but I didn't know any reaction. Carrie Fisher of course said, 'I'm in!' I said Carrie, 'Poker face! Poker face! Talk to your agent first!'

But the really interesting detail came when Hamill revealed what Lucas said would happen if Hamill and Fisher didn't want to return. Hamill explained that they were told:

Now, if you don't want to do it, we won't recast, we'll write your character out.

That's pretty interesting. One can't really imagine The Force Awakens proceeding without these key characters, though some fans have expressed that including all of the original trilogy trio was something felt a little forced and unnecessary. But at one point, it sounds like Lucasfilm was fully prepared to move forward with a story that didn't involve Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia. Presumably the same proposal was made to Harrison Ford regarding the return of Han Solo as well.

But since this meeting took place in 2012, I'm betting at this point George Lucas was still in talks with Disney about proceeding with the story he had originally envisioned for the next trilogy in the Star Wars saga, and already thought about what would happen if Hamill and Fisher didn't want to come back. As we know, Disney decided they didn't want to move forward with the story Lucas had in mind, so they parted ways.

Eventually it was J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt and Lawrence Kasdan recruited as the architects of the first installment for this new trilogy, and that's where it was likely determined that the return of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo was something that they would need to happen to make this new era of Star Wars work. Writing them out probably wasn't an option. And as Hamill notes in the panel, their return was essentially an "all of us or none of us" scenario, though he was hesitant to return:

I wasn't sure if I should come back. We had a beginning, a middle and an end and it was perfect. It really should be about the new generation. But I don't have to worry because Harrison [Ford] isn't going to do this. He's way too rich and cynical. He stopped caring decades ago. Then when they told me he was doing it I thought, 'Oh my God, I've been drafted.'

We're certainly glad that they all agreed to come back. I can't imagine how difficult it would have been to get the Star Wars machine started up again without these original cast members as the anchors. Star Wars: Episode VII needed a mix of old and new faces to get fans fully on board, and The Force Awakens did a fine job of accomplishing that.

Now we get to look forward to Star Wars: Episode VIII, but if you're looking for any secrets, you probably shouldn't trust Hamill. The actor told the Comic-Con crowd:

You should know by now; don't believe a word I say. I'm a professional liar. I get paid for making stuff up and pretending. Why would anyone believe me?

Does that mean we shouldn't believe that he'll be back for Star Wars: Episode IX? Hamill just shaved his Jedi beard, but reassured fans that he would be growing it back. Maybe that's all misdirection and Luke Skywalker will finally meet his end in the next installment of the new Star Wars trilogy. We'll find out when Episode VIII arrives on December 15, 2017 and Episode IX opens on May 24, 2019.

In the meantime, you can watch Mark Hamill's entire Salt Lake City Comic-Con panel right here: