Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a film anticipated in a way the movie industry hadn’t seen since, well, 1999’s Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Sixteen years after Return of the Jedi, George Lucas finally returned to a galaxy far, far away so he could complete the Skywalker saga (for the time, anyway) and tell the story of Anakin Skywalker’s rise and fall. When Episode I finally premiered, many fans were disappointed by what they saw. Child actor Jake Lloyd’s performance as a 9-year old Anakin was heavily criticized, and his career quickly ended. For many, landing a lead role in Star Wars is a blessing, but it became a curse for Lloyd.
In the years since the prequels were first released, some viewers have defended the movies and pointed out the good they did for the franchise (and Hollywood in general). A noteworthy example of this is the recent documentary The Prequels Strike Back: A Fan’s Journey. It would appear that the maligned trilogy has a fair amount of supporters, including none other than Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill.
While at the Sundance Film Festival, Hamill spoke with Vulture (hat tip Heroic Hollywood), and revealed that the backlash Lloyd received angered him:
“I couldn’t believe some of the things they wrote about the prequels, you know. I mean really, beyond I didn’t like it. I’m still angry about the way they treated Jake Lloyd. He was only ten years old, that boy, and he did exactly what George wanted him to do. Believe me, I understand clunky dialog.”
Regardless of how one feels about The Phantom Menace and its artistic merits, it’s hard not to agree with Hamill’s comments. Lucas is the self-proclaimed king of wooden dialogue and was never much of a wordsmith. Remember, the original trilogy has its fair share of cringe-worthy lines; Hamill’s own whining about Tosche Station is still ridiculed to this day. And while Lloyd’s turn may have been somewhat stilted, he was still a kid when he went through that extraordinary experience, and nobody deserved to be thrashed by critics and fans the way he was. Yes, there were a lot of expectations for Episode I going in, but many of the film’s shortcomings were beyond Lloyd’s control. He became an easy target in the aftermath as people looked for an outlet to voice their frustrations, and it had a severely negative impact on his life.
Hamill also revealed in his interview he almost appeared in the documentary The People vs. George Lucas, but backed away when he realized “it was an open invitation to trash George.” It isn’t surprising Hamill feels this way. His relationship with the Star Wars property is far different than most; he sees Lloyd as a kindred spirit and Lucas as the man he owes his career to. Hamill’s thoughts probably won’t change opinions on Lucas’ latter films, but one has to admire his loyalty and devotion to the people closest to him. The actor is never going to be one to throw anyone from Star Wars under the bus, but he does bring an interesting perspective to the situation and might make some think about how they reacted all those years ago.
Source: Vulture (via Heroic Hollywood)