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The Line Mark Hamill Begged George Lucas To Cut From Star Wars

Most longtime fans of Star Wars would agree that the franchise owes a lot of its success to good editing. 

As anyone familiar with series creator George Lucas' original screenplay would tell you, the process of making the first film so special involved throwing a lot of bad ideas away. So while most of the series' worst moments are confined to the three prequels, the movie that started it all had plenty of cringeworthy material going into it, which many of Lucas' collaborators wisely fought to prune. 

Appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1977, not long after Star Wars mania had begun to sweep the nation, Mark Hamill shared his own contribution to the script's improvement, revealing one clunker of a line from the original screenplay that he says he "begged" Lucas to get rid of.

"The dialogue was a little bit difficult," Hamill said, recalling the production. "I remember there was one line that I just begged [Lucas] to take out of the screenplay—and he finally did. I'll never forget it as long as I live. I sometimes dream about this line." 

The passage in question came up during a scene in which the crew of the Millennium Falcon comes across what remains of Princess Leia's home planet, Alderaan, after it's been destroyed by the Death Star. The line Hamill protested came as a response from Luke to a remark by Han Solo, which Hamill quotes for Carson with a charmingly gruff Harrison Ford impression.

"Harrison says, 'Look kid, I've done my part of the bargain,'" Hamill said. "'When I get to an asteroid, you, the old man, and the droids get dropped off.' And my line was: 'But we can't turn back, fear is their greatest defense; I doubt if the actual security there is any greater than it was on Aquilae or Sullust, and what there is is most likely directed towards a large-scale assault!' And I thought, 'Who talks like this, George?'"

You can check out the vintage clip of Hamill talking about the crime against screenwriting here.

While the line is far from the worst bit of dialogue ever to be uttered in the series—it's nowhere near as head-slappingly stupid as "Only a Sith deals in absolutes," for instance—it's still a nightmare of a line for an actor, written to convey information without any consideration given to how it would actually sound in conversation.

Hamill remembered pleading for the line's removal out of a sense of self-preservation. "We're the ones who are going to get vegetables thrown at us—not you," he recalled thinking as he picked the fight with Lucas.

The presence of the planet names "Aquilae" and "Sullust" in the convoluted line serves to demonstrate just how much got chiseled away from Star Wars' script on way from page to screen. In the original story treatment, Aquilae was a fleshed-out planet with the real-world parallel of communist North Vietnam. By the time the movie was shooting, the names had been reduced to a reference for the sake of worldbuilding. When Hamill prevailed in removing the one line they appeared in, he deleted the planets entirely.

The line that haunted Hamill isn't the only part of Star Wars' original script that needed work, and Hamill's not the only actor who had issues. According to Hamill, Harrison Ford "at one point threatened to tie George up and make him say his own lines at gunpoint." 

While the cast's complaints with the script may have caused some friction, their efforts worked to sand down Star Wars' rough edges, making it so most of the worst stuff never made it out of the editing bay. It all goes to show that when it comes to collaboration, compromise is king. Otherwise you get The Phantom Menace—and how many great lines can you quote from that?