Was last night even real? Moviepilot and FOX hosted a special screening of Matthew Vaughn's upcoming film, Kingsman: The Secret Service. For some insane reason, I was given the chance to host alongside someone who is way, way more famous than I'll ever be: Mark Hamill. The theater filled up with eager Kingsman recruits, many of whom were brand new to the story and had never read the comics before. Mmm, fresh meat.
Hamill appeared in the movie's origin comic series as himself, but in [Kingsman: The Secret Service](movie:713143), he plays a climate change expert known as Professor James Arnold. In both scenarios, Hamill finds himself being held hostage by a group of masked kidnappers, until Lancelot, a member of the Kingsman, shows up to rescue him. What ensues is one of the most action-packed fight scenes I've ever witnessed.
For his part, Mr. Hamill was an incredible host as he answered questions with as much charm and grace as you'd expect. When asked about his role in Kingsman, Hamill described how the cameo came about:
I play the professor in two scenes. This is really a glorified cameo, don’t get me wrong... I was a fan of [Mark Millar's] writing. I heard he wanted to talk to me about something, so I called him. He told me about the comic he was writing, and part of the plot involved kidnapping iconic science fiction actors, believe it or not.
... At one point [Mark Millar] said, "If we make this into a movie, will you play yourself?" and I thought, "Yeah, that sounds fine." What happened was, when they wrote the screenplay, that element of kidnapped sci-fi actors went away, but Mark still wanted me to do it. He said, "There’s another part we want you to play."
Hamill first announced his role as James Arnold at least year's San Diego Comic-Con, sharing a single, slightly blurry shot of his character to the crowd.
Of course, I absolutely had to know a little more about [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](movie:711158). If you've been following my stories, you know it's one of the films that I simply cannot shut up about, and Mr. Hamill was a total pro about it. Despite having an NDA the size of a Star Destroyer, he gave the audience a little insight to his on-set experience:
When we made the original films, you had the odd reporter hanging around the studio bribing people to give them stories...
[On the set of The Force Awakens] I said to them, ‘Do I really have to wear this robe and this hood that covers my entire head to go from the trailer to the soundstage?’
They said, ‘Yeah, there’s drones.’ Seriously, drones! There’s drones flying over the studio trying to get pictures of whatever they can get pictures of.
Hamill has a rich background in voice acting, most famously as the voice of The Joker in the 90's Batman: The Animated Series and a long list of Batman-related projects along the way. He excels at voicing villains - most recently, he took on the voice of the Emperor during the Empire Strikes Back live read in Los Angeles - so I asked him whether he preferred playing the hero or the villain.
Well, the villains are a lot of fun. [audience laughter] 'Cause they really have some colorful elements to their characters. I never would have guessed that something like The Joker would not only be so fufilling, but so much fun...
Not only did he answer questions, but he also took a giant audience selfie with everyone there, and stopped several times on his way out to sign autographs and say hi to fans. I was scheduled for a one-on-one interview with him after, which ended up delayed because Hamill spent lots of time talking to fans - he even surprised someone's mother with a phone call!
The night was incredible - everyone there was so enthusiastic to see Mark Hamill and Kingsman. The film itself was a thrill ride with outstanding action sequences, witty, hilarious British banter, and a fun premise that fans of high-octane comic book movies will adore.
Stay tuned for official videos and photos from the event, and make sure to check out Kingsman: The Secret Service, in theaters on February 13th.