Apparently Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Stranger Things) has been taking the credit for hooking his friend Mark Hamill up with his gig as Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars film for years now, much to Hamill’s agent’s chagrin. But it’s a pretty great thing to be able to credit yourself with, so why not?
Englund dove into the story about how the stars aligned to make this happen in a recent interview with The Guardiansaying:
“I really wanted to be in Apocalypse Now. I wanted to read for Chef – played by the great Frederic Forrest – but that part had been taken. They heard that I was a surfer, so I read for the surfer, but I think they thought I was too old. As I was leaving, one of the producers told me they were casting across the hall for this George Lucas space movie. George Lucas was my hero, so I thought: “Hell, I’ll go.” At the time, they wanted Han Solo to be played older, like a cool uncle who lets you smoke marijuana at Christmas. They looked at me for five minutes, took a couple of Polaroids; I did not read. That’s all I remember.
“But as I left, I snatched the audition sides [script excerpt] for this much younger character called Luke Skywalker. I went back to my apartment in the Hollywood Hills and my buddy Mark Hamill’s cowboy boots were on my front porch. He was working down the hill at the CBS studios as a very successful television actor. Mark was watching the Bob Newhart or Mary Tyler Moore show. We’d watch together in the afternoon and then call our agents at 5pm to see how our auditions had gone. I remember saying: “Guess what? George Lucas is making this space movie.” We both loved American Graffiti, so Mark called his agent and put her under pressure to get him an audition. It’s a bit like the Tarantino movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I was living at that time with Jan Fischer, who went on to The Lost Boys; our best friend became Luke Skywalker; and I became Freddy Krueger. At the time, we were just three young people living in the Hollywood Hills with big dreams.”
It’s such a great story! It does have a feel like Once Upon a Time in Hollywoodas this was the same time frame, and you have this crazy happenstance that leads to one of the most important casting decisions in film history. I’d totally watch a movie about this.