The former resident of Japan gives us some Jedi life advice and tells us what other Star Wars character we wishes he could have played.

With a release date of December 15 in Japan (miraculously the same date as the rest of the world), Star Wars: The Last Jedi is almost here. But as we wait impatiently for the latest chapter in the Star Wars saga, the film’s stars have already made its way to Japan on a promotional tour, and during their time here we talked with none other than Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill.

This wasn’t Hamill’s first time in Japan. As a matter of fact, the actor spent two years of his high school days living in Kanagawa Prefecture, where his father was stationed as a member of the U.S. Navy. But while he’s been back to visit multiple times, the release of The Last Jedi marks his first official, work-related trip to Japan in 39 years. We sent P.K. Sanjun, our sci-fi-loving Japanese-language reporter, to speak with Hamill, who gave us some Jedi-style life advice and also told us what other role he’d have liked to have played in the epic film franchise.

P.K.: I never thought the day would come when I’d be able to meet you.

Hamill: Well, you can check that one off your bucket list now.

P.K.: Totally. From this day forward, whenever life gets tough, I can look back on this and take strength from it.

Hamill: Then I guess my work here is done (laughs).

P.K.: Wait, wait, wait. I have questions for you! First, what have you enjoyed about playing the role of Luke Skywalker?

Hamill: I never dreamed that Luke Skywalker would become such an iconic character to so many people around the world. I always thought I’d be enough if I could just make a living as an actor, and it’s not like I started my career looking to become a big movie star.

P.K.: Really?

Hamill: Yeah. I never felt that way. But by playing Luke Skywalker, I’m amazingly blessed to be able to leave a lasting mark for future generations.

P.K.: Definitely. I mean, it’s Luke Skywalker!

Hamill: And playing Luke has allowed me to work on other projects I wanted to, like animation voice acting and writing comics. I was able to do those because of the foundation I’d built through playing Luke.

P.K.: And on the other hand, what difficulties have come with playing Luke?

Hamill: I’d say that the impression of “Luke equals Mark Hamill” is so strong in everyone’s minds. During the original trilogy, even if I wanted to play other roles, I couldn’t get auditions.

P.K.: Not even auditions?

Hamill: No, often I wasn’t evn considered. I played Mozart in the Broadway musical Amadeus, but when they were making the film version, I got turned down at the audition. So the hard part of playing Luke is that it was hard to get other roles.

But fundamentally, I think of myself as a working actor, who works hard at his job. I’ve never wanted an extravagant lifestyle, or to live luxuriously. I have a home, and I’m blessed with a wife and children. I’m happy just to have a normal life.

P.K.: That’s a very Jedi-like thing to say.

Hamill: It’s about finding modest joys. That’s what I tell myself, and so I feel like I have a rich, full life. Instead of what people around me think, I ask myself, ‘Am I happy? And is my family happy?’ That’s what’s important.

P.K.: Wise words. Next, if you could have played anyone else in Star Wars, who would you have liked to play? Female characters, droids, and creatures are OK.

Hamill: Actually, that’s something I thought about when I got the script for Return of the Jedi. ‘I’d rather have any part other than Luke,’ I thought. That’s how much I disliked him (laughs).

P.K.: What? Seriously?

Hamill: Yeah. I mean, Darth Vader is scary, but cool. C-390 is such a unique character. And Han Solo needs no explanation. He’s a playboy, but handsome and cool. I thought “Everyone else has such good roles.”

P.K.: I didn’t know you’d felt that way.

Hamill: And then think about Luke. He looks like, and is, just an average guy. I think you could even call him a boring character. Any young guy would rather be Han than Luke.

P.K.: Hmm.

Hamill: But much, much later, I realized that’s what makes the character great. Because he’s average, he’s relatable, and can be a hero everyone can love. I think George Lucas is a genius for placing this average guy at the center of such an epic story.

Ah, OK. The character other than Luke I’d liked to have player? Darth Vader. But I’m too short — I can’t even play a stormtrooper. I wonder if there’s any new medical technology that can help me (laughs).”

P.K.: Finally, could you give us a message for the fans in Japan?

Hamill: I hope, and am certain, that you all will enjoy the new film. May the Force be with you. Arigatou gozaimasu.

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