New Again: Star Wars

Published October 8, 2013

In New Again, we highlight a piece from Interview’s past that resonates with the present.   

Thirty-six years ago, Star Wars was a mysterious masterpiece soon to be discovered. Prior to the film’s release, the public knew nothing; there were no advanced screenings, and the stars preferred to allow the film do the talking. To say the very least, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford loved non-answers. Now, in two years, we can expect Star Wars Episode VII, but similar to the series’ premiere, we are nearly clueless in regards to the plot and characters. Will the film follow a new generation—the offspring of Leia and Hans, perhaps? Episode VII is currently being cast: Chloë Grace Moretz denies auditioning, while Saoirse Ronan describes her audition as “so much fun.” Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton and British actor James McAvoy are also rumored hopefuls. Despite the fresh faces, we’re also guessing that Fisher, Hamill, and Ford will definitely make appearances. Here’s what the trio had to say in June 1977, prior to their Star Wars claim to fame.

Star Wars Stars: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Harrison FordBy Susan Pile and Geraldine Smith

Star Wars—20th Century Fox’s hot new space thriller directed by George Lucas of American Graffiti fame—stars: Carrie Fisher as a princess who’s a senator who’s a spy who’s kidnapped; Mark Hamill as a “moisture farm boy” from a remote planet who saves her; and Harrison Ford as a pirate spaceship captain who whisks them off to freedom at the last possible moment. You have to see it to believe it. And, yes, yes, Carrie is the daughter of Debbie and Eddie—in real life, we mean, of course.

SUSAN PILE: Ok, so what do you guys want to talk about?

HARRISON FORD, CARRIE FISHER, MARK HAMILL: Wha-a-at?

PILE: Harrison Ford, why did Cindy Williams put you in the 10 Most Attractive Men in Los Angeles Magazine?

FISHER: Did she do that?

FORD: I have no idea.

FISHER: Mark and I are gonna go talk about that for a minute. We’ll be right back.

FORD: I don’t know.

PILE: Have you worked with Cindy Williams before?

FORD: In American Graffiti and The Conversation. I know her.

PILE: Yeah. So?

FORD: But not in that… that way.

PILE: Not in the carnal sense. Well, now that that’s cleared up…

FORD: She must have just assumed.

PILE: She’s got a big crush on you?

FORD: I wouldn’t say it was a big crush.

PILE: But aren’t you married? Don’t you have a kid or something?

FORD: I have several. And I am married. Let’s get that straight.

PILE: Okay, Cindy, are you listening?

FORD: Cindy knows that.

PILE: She just can’t get it through her—

GERALDINE SMITH: [to Fisher] Are you married?

FISHER: No.

SMITH: How old are you?

FISHER: Twenty and not married yet.

SMITH: That’s so young. You don’t want to get married young, do ya?

FISHER: I’ll be getting married soon.

FORD: Soon as somebody asks you.

FISHER: He did ask me.

FORD: You’ve been asked?

FISHER: Today, yes. At lunch.

PILE: Is this for real, Carrie?

FISHER: I don’t know.

PILE: I want to get married, too.

FISHER: Well maybe this guy will marry you. My guy just wants to get married.

PILE: This person just wants to get married to you?

FISHER: No. Just to get married.

PILE: Like is he from another country and he wants to get married?

FISHER: To live here? No. I don’t know.

SMITH: Don’t marry him.

PILE: Mark, we’re going to leave the floor open to you, until you say something. Tell me about Star Wars. You’re the star of Star Wars, aren’t you?

HAMILL: Have you seen it?

PILE: No, no one’s allowed to see it yet. I spoke with Steve Spielberg over the weekend after he had seen it in San Francisco, and he said it’s a masterpiece, and he told us how he and George Lucas trade their points like baseball cards. Spielberg has a couple of points in Lucas’ movie Star Wars and Lucas has a couple points in Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

FORD: No shit.

PILE: And they trade some “Dizzy Deans” to John Milius for a piece of Big Wednesday, and they…

HAMILL: It’s an amazing scam they’ve got going. Each one says that, “Your movie is much better than my movie, and mine’s great.” And this way they can…

PILE: …get a little healthy competition going.

[Pile introduces Matthew Rolston, the photographer, to everybody and explains that Mark’s face is not to be photographed.]

PILE: What else would you like to be asked? I mean, you tell me what you want to say, and you can say it. Freedom of speech it’s called.

FORD: I don’t have anything to say.

PILE: Harrison, I was warned about you. You must have something to say.

FORD: You were warned I hadn’t anything to say?

PILE: Yeah.

FORD: Well, fair warning.

PILE: The meek shall inherit the earth.

FORD: Well, give it to them… I’m not meek. I just haven’t anything to say.

PILE: I’ll get to you later. Okay, Carrie, tell us a little bit about Sir Laurence Olivier?

FISHER: He’s going to be 70 on May 21st.

PILE: May 21st—isn’t that Bob Dylan’s birthday, too?

FISHER: I don’t know his favorite color or anything.

PILE: But I’m serious, really. I’m very interested in why he’s doing American plays for American television.

FORD: For American dollars… not fair. Excuse me. [gets up to leave]

FISHER: Sorry, Larry. Harrison, if you leave now, I’ll kill you.

SMITH: You can’t leave!

PILE: Harrison!

FORD: I’m getting some more beer. She’ll have to tell you all about it. I don’t know him.

FISHER: Sir Laurence taught me how to do a stage laugh, which I will not do.

PILE: Okay.

FISHER: Have you ever said to an actor, “Let me hear you laugh?”

SMITH: It’s very hard.

FISHER: It’s easier to remember sad things and cry.

SMITH: Laughing is the hardest.

FISHER: Well, then, you’ve just got to work with Sir Laurence, and he’ll tell you how to get it out.

SMITH: Really? What’d he tell you?

FISHER: When the tape’s up I’ll show you how to do it. It’s technical, that’s the only way to do it.

SMITH: I only had to do it once. After the first take, I couldn’t do it again. It was very embarrassing.

FISHER: It’s technical. I charge to have people hear it. I take American Express.

PILE: Joanne Woodward was also in this [Come Back Little Sheba]?

FISHER: Yes. It was very interesting, because the men…

FORD: [returning from the kitchen, beer in hand] The men?

PILE: Hey. We’re having a very interesting discussion here.

FISHER: We’re on Nietzsche.

FORD: Don Ameche? Now, Don Ameche—there’s a guy.

FISHER: …I have reason to believe he’s my real father. I don’t know. I don’t mean that.

FORD: People live for stuff like that.

PILE: When you were like 16 or something you did Shampoo?

FISHER: Ay—yeah. That’s how I did it.

PILE: How do you like Warren Beatty?

FISHER: [pauses] I like Warren.

SMITH: You do? Do you say nice things about everybody even though you don’t mean it?

[Tape turns off as Warren Beatty stories are exchanged.]

PILE: Do you have any Warren Beatty stories that are all right for the tape?

HAMILL: She has lots of great ones that are not all right for the tape.

FISHER: I do not! He was just relentlessly charming, and I was 17—you know.

PILE: He is relentlessly charming.

FISHER: Very charming. Suspiciously charming.

PILE: Absolutely. Now that you’re 20, you’re smart…

FISHER: Oh, I don’t think so. I just don’t have any interest in Warren Beatty stories. I think I’m gonna get a beer now.

PILE: Oh, no, no, Carrie. Not until we let this get out. Tell me about Come Back Little Sheba with Joanne Woodward and Sir Laurence Olivier.

FISHER: I haven’t seen it. I think in about a month it’ll be on TV.

PILE: So maybe about the time this interview comes out it’ll be on.

FISHER: And I’ll be in Stockholm.

PILE: What part do you play?

FISHER: I play Marie.

PILE: And who did Marie in the original version?

FISHER: Terry Moore.

PILE: Oh, you mean Mrs. Howard Hughes.

FISHER: No, no, that’s someone who dated…

PILE: Oh, I thought she had the secret marriage to Howard Hughes.

FISHER: No, that’s somebody else. I don’t remember her name—Jean Peters.

PILE: But that’s the real marriage. Terry Moore claimed that he really married her.

FISHER: Did she get anything out of it?

PILE: Nobody’ll get anything out of the Summa Corporation. And Joanne Woodward plays the part that was made famous by…?

FISHER: Shirley Booth. She won an Oscar for it.

PILE: Right. And Sir Laurence Olivier plays—?

FISHER: Burt Lancaster.

HAMILL: Yeah, but Burt Lancaster was terribly miscast in the movie. I can’t remember who did it in the play, but it was completely against type.

PILE: That’s okay, Mark. You know, say whatever you want to say.

HAMILL: No! No! It’s not any original thought of mine.

FORD: Say whatever you want to be held responsible for.

HAMILL: It’s not an original thought of mine. Burt Lancaster felt he wasn’t and said that. When you read little books about that movie, they say that they guy was like a late-to middle-aged balding fat guy on stage, and Burt Lancaster was doing a character thing. He’s great in that movie.

PILE: [to Hamill, who is now wearing an ape mask from Star Wars] Would you take that off while we’re talking to you?

HAMILL: No.

FISHER, FORD, AND HAMILL: They said, “No pictures.”

FISHER: Okay, Geraldine, don’t take pictures of Mark until later. We’re through with him now anyway.

SMITH: We’ve got to carry in what’s-his-name.

PILE: Harrison.

FORD: What did you say?

SMITH: I’m really bad at names.

PILE: So what about Star Wars? What would you like people to know about Star Wars? I mean, this is important. This is why we’re doing the interview.

FISHER: That’s right.

FORD: Boy, you put your finger right on it.

PILE: Well, Harrison, what is your part in the movie about? [Harrison clears his throat and hedges further.] Never mind. I can read it right out of this book here.

FISHER: Read it out loud!

PILE: Okay, quote, “Harrison Ford plays Han Solo, the overly confident captain of the Millennium Falcon, a Corellian pirate starship. Accompanied by his Wookie companion, Chewbacca, he plies his mercenary trade outside the restrictive laws of the Empire. At times his insanely reckless manner pushes him into situations from which only his foolhardy courage can save him.”

FORD: Yeah, but, you know, I didn’t exactly play it like that.

PILE: How did you play it? Not as “overly confident”—right?

FORD: Right. That’s the difference between being able to describe it and playing it. That’s exactly the difference. It can be described as “overly confident,” but I didn’t know that at the time. I was just responding to it.

PILE: How were you directed to play Hans Solo?

FORD: I was directed to play it “faster and more intense.”

PILE: How is George Lucas at working with actors?

FORD: George is very nice to work with, actually, in many ways. He gives you a lot of freedom, he relied upon your participation and he is very receptive to ideas that help tell the story. Which is why, ah—

PILE: —you want to work with him when he has a project?

FORD: Yeah. I mean, it’s his project when you work for him. You don’t judge his ideas or his concepts or his script.

PILE: And it’s not your business what his idea is. It’s just your business to be responsible to him and his conception-is that what it is?

FORD: I think so. That’s certainly simplified, but that’s the essence of the relationship.

PILE: So, being an actor then, being a professional actor must be kind of hard because you have to let your ego be sublimated by a director who tells you who you are?

FORD: No. Not at all. [laughs] It’s easy. The only thing hard about being an actor is being out of work. So, when you get a job—that part ain’t hard at all.

PILE: When you get a job, but that’s Geraldine’s problem now, you get desperate to go out and do it. [to Hamill] That’s your problem now, isn’t it kid? You’ve got a problem we aren’t allowed to talk about.

FORD: [to Hamill] Jesus, hey—we don’t mean to bring you down.

PILE: You’re the Montgomery Clift.

FISHER: That’s okay!

HAMILL: Yeah, toss me away like an old brown shoe.

PILE: You’re pretty cute, Mark. Just look at you.

HAMILL: Yeah, hey… [singing] “Look at me…Just look at me.”

FISHER: Mark describes himself as “fun personified.”

PILE: [taken aback] Ummmm—Ahhhh…He doesn’t appear to be “fun personified.”

FISHER: Well, I was getting all the interviews he wouldn’t do, and I asked him how he would like himself described, and he said as fun personified. The-ere ya go!

PILE: Yo! Thank you, Carrie.

FISHER: This is the Caesarian section.

PILE: So, Mark really, how old are you?

HAMILL: That’s a boring question. Why don’t we ask them what they’re enjoying at this moment so much?

FISHER: Or astrology!

PILE: You’re into that?

FISHER: No, no—hey.

HAMILL: She’s so out of it.

PILE: What’s wrong? Aren’t you having a wonderful time?

FORD: Why don’t we let the movie do the talking?

THIS INTERVIEW ORIGINALLY RAN IN THE JUNE 1977 ISSUE OF INTERVIEW.

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