In a Comic-Con without a massive Star Wars panel or even a Joss Whedon lecture, those looking for any lightning in Hall H, could rely on Mark Hamill this afternoon.
A lot of these panels have the same wash-rinse-repeat formula: Actors talking passionately about their roles in projects we haven’t seen yet. Or worse, a great deal of backslapping among the cast about their favorite on set moments. Oh, and let’s not forget a trailer. But at Netflix’s panel for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, Hamill took everyone back down memory lane, and it gave the whole 45 minute panel a greater sense of fanboy spiritual dept, especially for a prequel streaming series to a 37-year-old cult fantasy movie.
In fact, at the end of the panel discussion for the Netflix series, and before the first episode of Dark Crystal was shown to the Hall, Hamill was surprised with the 2019 Comic-Con Icon Award, the confab’s highest honor. Marvel TV boss Jeph Loeb has received the kudo in the past, as well as Whedon. Anyone who receives it, gets really emotional, and Hamill delivered a teary rendition of “The Buddi Song” from his latest movie Child’s Play, ending with a lyric meant for the crowd: “I will never let you go/I am your Buddi until the end.”
“If it’s not for you fans, I wouldn’t be here,” exclaimed Hamill, “I was coming to these Cons long before I met George Lucas. Back then, we’d say, ‘Did you hear, I think there’s going to be 5,000 people this year? Ok, how many are women?'”
Earlier in the session, Hamill shared his connection to the original Jim Henson 1982 movie Dark Crystal. “I took my kids to see it…what I loved about it was how daring and dark it was opposed to other (Henson) projects. It was like Return to Oz. When that came out it, the film was deemed too dark for children, but it gained a real following.”
And of course, there’s a whole Star Wars connection here between Hamill and the new Dark Crystal.
“I was a Muppet fanatic ever since I saw them on The Ed Sullivan show, and still to this day, one of my career highlights was being on the Star Wars episode of The Muppets,” Hamill said to great cheers. Committing to the Dark Crystal series was a no brainer for Hamill as many of those involved with the The Muppets were like family to him, i.e. the original pic’s co-director Frank Oz aka Yoda from Star Wars, as well as late puppeteer Richard Hunt (who Hamill’s kids would call Uncle Richard since he frequented the actor’s household).
And while there was no Hamill impersonation of Harrison Ford today, he broke out his Jim Henson instead.
“‘So Mark, you’d like to do the show?” Hamill said impersonating the puppet maestro. Hamill told him, “Well I’m known to do impressions” and then shared the Fozzie Bear imitation with the Hall that he did for Henson. The impression seemed to go over Henson’s head at the time, but it was later incorporated in the actual Muppet Show episode whereby Hamill is asked by Kermit what he can do on the show.
On Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, Hamill plays The Scientist on the series. The events take places before those of the 1982 movie. In the film, Jen and Kira, the last of the Gelfings on planet Thra, join forces and embark on a dangerous journey to heal a precious Dark Crystal and restore order to their planet. On the way they square off with the malevolent Skeksis (who use the power of the Dark Crystal to replenish themselves), and contend with the kind wizards, the ruRu aka the Mystics. The Netflix prequel series will feature characters from the 1982 movie, i.e. Fizzgig. Taron Egerton plays a gelfling, Rian, who is joined by two others who embark on a journey to find the horrifying secret behind the Skeksis’ power, thus igniting the fires for a rebellion which could save their world. All eight episodes were directed by Louis Leterrier. Netflix concurred with the Henson Co. that that the series should rely heavily on puppets, many of which, along with the sets, were copied from the original pieces.
EP Lisa Henson said that Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance was a passion project for her family’s company, her father’s “biggest challenge and most personal film.”
“We tried to make a feature film in the past, and this is my third Comic-Con talking about Dark Crystal,” said Henson who was over the moon today that she could finally declare to Comic-Con attendees that the next iteration of Dark Crystal, is a reality.
Even more reason for Hamill to commit to Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance: “The last time I saw (Star Wars and Dark Crystal producer) Gary Kurtz before he passed away, I told him I was doing this. He read the script and gave his approval. And he was right, it was great writing, and that’s what you look for; not the contract or the billing — my agent would kill if he heard me saying this!”
Hamill described his process about doing the voiceovers: While he’d do one take with the actual dialogue, there would be a second one in which he would incorporate walking and grunting sounds for The Scientist. “After you do all that, you get so lightheaded, it’s like who needs drugs?” he joked.
Hamill was asked by a fan to do his voice of The Scientist. He hesitated a bit looking over at Henson, worried that he wasn’t allowed to do it. “I’m afraid of non-disclosure agreements. I talk in my sleep and I’m afraid that I’m getting in trouble with Lucasfilm,” said the Luke Skywalker thespian (Henson gave him the go-ahead to share his Scientist).
As Hamill spoke about his career, he’s still wowed how he was called back to reprise Luke Skywalker in the Disney set of Star Wars pics several decades later.
“As a kid I wondered what the age limit would be when you’re suppose to stop liking comic books, the Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy. My dad didn’t like any of those things!,” said Hamill.
“I’m so grateful, I never thought I would come back and do something that I was known for so long ago, including The Muppets,” said Hamill referring to the Dark Crystal series.
He then quipped, “This is all found couch money.”