‘Star Wars’ Cost Mark Hamill the Lead Role in ‘Amadeus,’ but He’s Glad the Director Said That ‘Right to My Face’

“Luke Skywalker is not…Mozart,” actor recalls filmmaker Milos Forman telling him 

Mark Hamill will forever be a cinematic legend for playing Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars,” but the blessing of being one of the most famous movie heroes in film history also proved to be a curse when he tried to move his career beyond the galaxy far, far away – and into the 18th century to play composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Hamill discussed how his career changed dramatically on CBS’ “Sunday Morning,” recalling how he and co-stars Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher were blown away by the immediate success of “Star Wars” in 1977 and seeing fans dressed like their characters, “homemade lightsabers and all.”

That popularity got even more intense after “The Empire Strikes Back” was released in 1980, and with it the most famous twist in movie history. At that point, Hamill wanted to stretch his acting muscles and show that there’s more to him than Luke, and so he was cast as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the Tony-winning Broadway play “Amadeus” during its original Broadway run, taking over for original lead actor Tim Curry.

But when director Milos Forman was casting for his 1984 film adaptation of “Amadeus,” Hamill’s attempt to convert his stage experience with the role into a big post-“Star Wars” job in Hollywood was flatly denied.

“I said, ‘You know, I’d really love a chance at playing Mozart,’” recalled Hamill, who did his best impression of the Czech filmmaker to respond to his own comment. “And he said, ‘Oh,  no, no, no. The Luke Skywalker is not to be being the Mozart.’ So, I thought, well, at least he’s honest! […] “I mean, I at least admired the fact that he said it right to my face. But, you know, it’s a crazy business.”

Hamill’s efforts to distance himself from “Star Wars” could even be seen in his Playbill biography during his time on Broadway, where he had it written that he was “known for a series of popular space movies.” Carrie Fisher told him to knock it off.

“She said, ‘Get over yourself. Look: You’re Luke Skywalker. I’m Princess Leia. Just accept it!’” Hamill remembers his co-star telling him.

Hamill, now 71, went on to have a successful career in voice acting — most famously as the Joker in “Batman: The Animated Series” — and returned to play Luke Skywalker in Disney’s recent “Star Wars” sequel trilogy. He can currently be seen in theaters in “The Machine,” an action comedy in which he plays the father of comedian Bert Kreischer, who gets in trouble with Russian mobsters.

“At this point, you could basically win a Grammy, cure cancer, and still forever you are going to be Luke Skywalker. Have you accepted that?” asked “Sunday Morning” correspondent Tracy Smith.

“Yeah. Well, I don’t care,” Hamill said. “I mean, the truth of the matter is, I never really expected to be remembered for anything. I just wanted to make a living doing what I liked. And I thought, ‘Well, it could be worse. I could be, like, known as being the best actor who ever played Adolf Hitler, you know?’ At least Luke is an admirable fellow!”