Mark Hamill’s 10 Greatest Post-Star Wars Roles

By Rob Bricken in Daily Lists
Monday, July 28, 2008 at 5:06 am

5) Adrian Ripburger in Full Throttle

The point-and-click graphic adventure game wasn’t invented at LucasArts, but it was arguably perfected there, through a steady evolution that started with Labyrinth in the 1980s and peaked with Grim Fandango in 1998. Full Throttle is the second-best step in that chain, with its rough-edged biker tale of murder, revenge, and the American motorcycle industry. That murder’s committed by the madly ambitious Adrian Ripburger, who provided Hamill with another opportunity to voice a sneering villain. Part amoral corporate lickspittle and part Dick Jones from Robocop, Ripburger hobbles around, but later proves a surprisingly imposing villain, particularly when he’s hounding the game’s heroes with a heavily armed construction vehicle. True to LucasArts’ tone, he’s defeated by a minor, indirect slip-up.

4) Max Reed in The Guyver

Long before Dragonball fans were crying over Hollywood mutating their beloved cartoon, a little violence-fest called The Guyver went from anime and manga to a film full of real-life rubbery creatures pounding each other. It was also the source of a thoroughly misleading ad campaign, which suggested that Mark Hamill was playing the hero and, we hoped, getting inside the big, gooey, plastic superhero armor.

Sadly, he didn’t. Hamill plays an undercover cop named Max Reed and spends much of the movie investigating the Guyver armor and its connection to a sinister corporation. Reed’s a fifth wheel in battle, as he watches from the sidelines during the Power Rangers rehearsals that compose the movie’s action scenes. You can see him for a split-second during this little cheese serving.

He makes up for it in the end, though, when an evil experiment turns him into a hideous slug-roach creature and thereby gives him the most touching death scene ever granted to a hideous slug-roach creature with Mark Hamill’s face.

3) Fire Lord Ozai in Avatar: The Last Airbender

Calling Avatar an anime rip-off might be fair if the show didn’t shame an awful lot of the actual superhero-ish anime aimed at kids. Its multifaceted characters are an interesting bunch, even in the case of little-seen villains like Hamill’s Fire Lord Ozai, who’s less a cackling Star Wars emperor and more the fire-throwing equivalent of that asshole dad who lets his two-year-old burn his hand on a hot stove so it’ll “build character.” Ozai’s responsible for just about everything wrong in the world of Avatar, from the militant aggression of the nation he rules to his son’s half-justified tantrums.

In fact, the show’s villains are generally more compelling than the heroes. Perhaps it’s Hamill’s voice that gives Ozai that likeable edge. Or perhaps it’s because the opposition consists of annoying, goody-goody whiners like Prince Zuko there.

2) Christopher Blair in Wing Commander

The buzzword “full motion video” should strike terror into the soul of anyone who liked video games around 1990, as the phrase spawned a cottage industry of terrible, grainy movie clips strung together in stumbling mockery of a real game. Some series had the right idea, though, and used such videos to enhance a conventional game. Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger was one of them. Granted, the scenes of human actors in hostile negotiations with haughty, spastic cat-puppet-things resemble some community-theater Babylon 5, but Origin Systems had the good grace to use some accomplished actors, including Hamill, Malcolm McDowell, and, just before the hit Fox sci-fi series Sliders made him a household name, John Rhys-Davies.

Hamilll played Christopher Blair, the retroactively named hero of the earlier two Wing Commanders, and does a fairly good job, considering that he’s acting in front of a green-screen most of the time. Could be worse; he could’ve been doing it for The Phantom Menace. Yes, we can still make fun of that. Shut up.

1) The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series

As the story goes, Hamill was originally denied the part of the Joker in the groundbreaking Batman: The Animated Series. The role had already gone to Tim Curry, who, by that point, had a resume of cartoon villain voice work stretching from TaleSpin to Fox’s Peter Pan and the Pirates. Hamill was instead cast as the one-off villain in the Mr. Freeze showcase episode, “Heart of Ice,” but his performance so impressed the producers that he bumped Curry out of the prized role. And he’s been the voice of the Joker ever since, even to the point where the short-lived crapfest Birds of Prey had him overdub another actor during the Joker’s cameo. How well did Hamill do as the Joker? So well that someone edited together a video dedicated solely to his laugh.

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