When told he has 339 acting credits currently listed on IMDb, Mark Hamill could neither confirm nor deny that total.
Especially with voice work, he said, “It doesn’t get on the air until nine months to a year later. It’s not like they send you an email: ‘Hey, your episode’s on this Thursday!’ The kids’ll be watching Cartoon Network – ‘Shh, wait a minute! I think I’m that gangster lobster!’ … I forget these things.
“Somebody just retweeted the fact that I did the voice of Chucky more than 10 years ago on ‘Robot Chicken.’ Completely forgot about it.”
Hamill dropped by the Los Angeles Times’ video studio for an Emmy Contenders chat concerning his work on the current History Channel series “Knightfall.” But with that many credits, including the upcoming reboot of the killer-doll horror franchise “Child’s Play” (in which he plays a totally reimagined version of the murderous Chucky) and a host of fan questions, there was a lot of ground to cover.
Though it’s hard to imagine any actor finding work for which they could be as well known as he is for Luke Skywalker in the “Star Wars” galactic franchise, Hamill’s in the ballpark with his copious voice work – especially as Batman’s arch-nemesis, The Joker, starting with the 1993 “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.”
“It was because I loved Batman and I wanted to be a part of it that I … said to my agent, ‘I’d love to get in on that.’ I was amazed at how well-written the scripts were, that they were writing up to young people, rather than patronizing. It was far from the Saturday-morning, ‘Super Friends’ kind of approach.”
Among his turns in the part is the animated-feature version of the classic Alan Moore graphic-novel take on the character’s origin, “The Killing Joke.” While that indelible and grim story is considered definitive by many fans, Hamill is able to separate it from even his own other incarnations of the Clown Prince of Crime.
“Every time I play the character, I like to pretend it’s the first time I’ve ever done him. And they use him in very different ways. Sometimes he is supposed to be scary and malevolent. Other times he’s more. … There was a parody of ‘Thelma & Louise,’ Where Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy team up and go off on these adventures, and you see Joker shuffling around the house in fluffy slippers.
“He’s really like the Hamlet of comic-book villains; destined to be played and re-interpreted over and over again. We have the Joaquin Phoenix version coming up, can’t wait for that.”
“Knightfall” concerns the rise (and fall, natch) of the Knights Templar. Hamill plays veteran Templar trainer Talus, an unforgiving, occasionally brutal, scarred, white-bearded ogre of a wise man. Hamill is nearly unrecognizable in the role.
“First of all, I read it and said, ‘Why would they think of me for this?’ Then my agent was, ‘Don’t talk yourself out of a job, Mark,’ ” he said. Once he started working on it, he had to ask the question anyway, and “the production people … said, ‘It was your voice-over work.’
“You’re completely transformed to the point where you look in the mirror and you go, ‘It’s not me!’ So it gives you license to be comfortable doing and saying things you never would in your real life.”
Hamill said he had idealized notions of knights from his youth and pop-culture staples such as “Camelot.” He didn’t relish the reality of their living conditions.
“To live in those times, where 45 was considered old age, where you had to have six or seven children so two could survive, the pestilence and the disease … as I say, ‘All the glamour of the 14th century.’
“I’m one of those people, I don’t feel good unless I have a shower every morning. I don’t think these guys ever showered. They used body odor as a weapon.”
Hamill also lightheartedly touched on his experience directing, the terrible advice he gave Arnold Schwarzenegger, reading Trump tweets in his Joker voice, and the fun he has trolling fans.
Hamill was also in a series of movies called “Star Wars.” He talked about visiting young fans of the franchise in hospitals, including one who’d lost an arm and wanted to give his Luke Skywalker figure to the actor.
“ ‘When I lost my arm, I knew that I could be successful because Luke lost his hand and he’s still a Jedi,’ ” the fan told him.
“This is an 8-year-old telling me this. You get a huge lump in your throat. It’s so satisfying to be able to give back in that way. You’re driving home, you sort of save the tears …
“It’s in the car, going home, you think, ‘This makes what I do for a living so trivial.’ ”
For this and other video conversations with contenders, please visit latimes.com/emmychats.