[VIDEO]: TMS Chats With Mark Hamill As He Begins His Pop Culture Quest With Comic-Con HQ
We’ve been eagerly anticipating Mark Hamill’s Pop Culture Quest, a new digital series for the Comic-Con HQ streaming service, and now it’s finally here! Pop Culture Quest dropped its first episode yesterday, and TMS had the chance to chat with its illustrious host. Check it out in the above video!
Pop Culture Quest is a series in which Mark Hamill travels to various locations to talk to other fans who are as passionate about collecting as he is, with interests ranging from comics, film, and TV to music, Barbie dolls, and pinball machines. I was able to chat with Hamill about what we can expect from the series, his own collecting habits, and what makes decide to take on the projects he does. I also apologize for TMS spelling his name wrong that one time…
For those who prefer, the transcript is below, and for everyone, there’s an embed of the first episode of Pop Culture Quest, which is being offered exclusively on YouTube by DC Entertanment.
Teresa Jusino (TMS): Hello!
Mark Hamill: Hi!
TMS: Sorry for all the technical difficulties, but we are here now!
Hamill: No problem. Good!
TMS: First of all, I’m sure you were told, but this is for a site called The Mary Sue.
Hamill: I just went there yesterday!
TMS: Did you!
Hamill: I was on Mediaite, and at the bottom of Mediaite was The Mary Sue, and I said Well, I haven’t been there in a long time, so I clicked on it. And there was an article where I was mentioned, and you spelled my name wrong. So that’s how famous I am.
TMS: (mortified) Oh no! No, that’s how tired our editors are!
Hamill: H-A-M-I-L. But believe me, it makes me laugh, because it keeps you from getting too high-falutin’. So…you’re so famous, but they still spell your name wrong.
TMS: Oh no! Now we’re gonna be triply-checking everything you’re in from now on!
Hamill: Anyway…it was an article about the guys from Rogue One, so that’s how I know…
TMS: Well, even despite that, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today!
TMS: I’m excited about Pop Culture Quest that is coming up. It looks really, really fun. First of all, I saw some of the promos we were sent, just talking about the size of your collection, of all the stuff you’ve accumulated. I’m curious about how your friends and family react to your collection. Are they as into it as you are? Do they think you’re kinda bananas for having all this crap in storage?
Hamill: I don’t wanna paint with a broad brush. I think my wife sort of tolerates it. She sort of knew this aspect of my personality back when we were first dating. When she’d come to my apartment, I had movie posters all over the walls — A Hard Day’s Night, A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum — and all these different posters, and just toys in general. I think what happened was I sort of wanted to re-collect the things that I had as a kid that I was shamed into giving away. Like, C’mon, you’re too old to be hanging onto this Jimmy Olsen comic. Give it to a kid.
I don’t think I was trying to reach out to my childhood in any way, it’s just I thought, Now that I have a little money to spend, what is it that I would really love? It happened sort of organically. Very early on, I was still in college when a girl was going away to the East Coast to go to college, and she was selling her Beatles collection, her Beatles memorabilia. In fact, just the other day, Mary Lou came in, she had the original little piece of note paper that was a listing of all the things I bought from her. The bobbing head dolls…yeah, all these things. It was like fourteen items, $126. Now, any one of those items now is worth more than that, but we’re talking about 1970. And the only reason I decided to buy it was, I was a huge Beatles fan, I was crushed when they broke up. And even though I’d only bought the records, and thought all the other stuff, you know, Who would buy the Beatles ‘Flip Your Wig’ game? That’s so silly…Suddenly, that became a very desirable item to me, to sort of hang onto whatever vestiges of the band that I could, because I couldn’t believe they were breaking up.
So, that was kind of the start of my collection. But my collection’s all over the place. It’s whatever I like! Whether it’s a lunchbox from a TV show I like, or the Aurora model kits that I wasn’t able to get when I was a kid. They were expensive for someone of my age at that time. But it’s not really consistent. There’s almost no rhyme or reason. It’s sort of comic book related, but rock n’ roll too, and board games of all kinds, the sillier the better…
The show came out of the fact that I collected so many things that there was no other room to…I said to Mary Lou, it’s really a sign that here we are renting storage space in Port Hueneme, which is like ninety minutes away from here, just to keep my stuff! I’ve gotta get a handle on this, ’cause this is really out of control. So when the opportunity for this show came along, I thought you know what? This would be a great way to continue collecting through other people! I thought, I can’t own all these cereal boxes that I love so much, but you can buy these books that have color photographs of whatever it is. There are so many catalogs for the items that if you can’t own the item, at least you can have a nice photograph of it. So, I started trying to feed my habit by buying those kinds of catalog books and auction books, just to see what’s out there.
It’s so fantastic! And when we first started talking about making this show, I thought this would be a great way to not only meet all these fellow collectors, because…it doesn’t matter. If you collect Barbies, I don’t collect Barbies, but the impetus that makes me want to collect, and makes that other person want to collect Barbies is the same. There’s a real sort of connecting tissue between what makes a collector. So, I became really fascinated not just with the collections, but the people behind these collections.
And it’s also fun to pretend like I do what you do for a living. I mean, I’m a pretend journalist, you’re a real one, but it’s fun to be asking the questions rather than answering them.
TMS: Are there any favorites that you’ve had already? Any in particular that you look forward to us seeing?
Hamill: Well, obviously DC has a great resonance, because it was something that I loved since I was a little boy. What surprised me was that, you know, this week we’re gonna look at pinball machines. And I was like, Well, okay. I’m nominally interested, I’m not fascinated with them. Then I’d meet these people that were into the whole arcade game thing, and it turned out to be one of my favorite episodes. That’s the thing. I think we’ve only scratched the surface.
I wanted to go to this guy in the countryside of England. Out of nowhere, I found this guy who is a Sgt. Bilko collector. That’s all he does, is collect Sgt. Bilko. He corresponded with Phil Silvers, he has autographed scripts, Bill eventually sent him one of his uniforms and a pair of his glasses. So here’s this guy who lives out in the countryside of England and has this little Bilko museum! We weren’t able to do it in this series of shows, because I was in England doing Episode VIII, and my crew was back here. It just didn’t work out. I talked to the guy, he was open to it. If we do any more, he’s high on my list. Like I say, we haven’t even really begun to scratch the surface of what’s out there.
But again, I did this for fun. I did it because it’s a way to go to my happy place. It’s a diversion from everyday…from the realities of our everyday existence. I want it to be fun, like doing the [word] jumble, or a jigsaw puzzle, or something that’s fun. It’s one of those things where, if I don’t do anymore, this was great. I mean, I’ll think of it as a little miniseries. It was so unexpected, and it sort of happened organically.
Howard Kazanjian, the producer of Return of the Jedi, he was over at my house one time, he was in my room where I’m sitting right now, looking at all my toys and my collection and stuff. And I was talking about how I’d passed on hosting this show about space. And I said, not that I’m not interested in space, but it’s kinda too on the nose with Star Wars and all that. But it’s not really a passion of mine. I wouldn’t mind hosting something if I could find something…
And he said, what else have they asked you to host? I said, well something about UFOs, something about paranormal activity. And believe me, I would love to see a UFO. I would die. I would love to see one, and I’ve never seen one. I would love to see a ghost! Well, I think I would like to see a ghost. I’ve never seen one, but I hope I could handle it and not wet myself. Those are shows I would probably watch, but I don’t know if I could really get behind them.
And Howard looked around at my collection and said This should be your show right here! I said, What? And he said, Look at all these toys! Let’s do a show about collecting. And that’s what started us off. So, it happened sort of organically. But we’ll see what happens.
Because by the way, it’s a lot more work than I fucking imagined!
TMS: Yeah, producing a TV show is not easy. Even a digital show!
Hamill: No, it’s not. It’s not. And one of the things that happens is that you go around and you pitch these things, and you’re so used to being rejected, that by the time someone says Yeah, that’s a good idea, let’s do it! it doesn’t really compute. I remember when Seth Laderman from Lionsgate said Yeah, I think this is good. I think we should do this. I paused. And then I continued pitching the show. And he was like, Mark, Mark, stop! We want this! [laughs] But it just didn’t seem real to me. You don’t think of it as a tangible show. Here’s what I do. I pitch the show that no one will buy, and eventually it happened, and here we are!
What I’d love to hear…I’d love to hear feedback from you, and your viewers and your readers of what you’d like to see. ‘Cause there’s Civil War memorabilia, and political memorabilia through the ages. There’s so many things we didn’t get to, like the model kits and the board games. So many things. We’ve only scratched the surface.
TMS: How many episodes have you filmed so far?
Hamill: There’s ten. When we got to the archives of DC…their vault! You could do a documentary just on the vault! As much as I love Jim Lee, the collectibles that are in the basement over there, or their “vault…” This show should be an hour! It shouldn’t be ten, or eleven, or twelve minutes or whatever it is! So, we’ll see how flexible we can be. That’s one thing that’s nice about this age of New Media. You don’t have to exactly conform and do a 22 1/2 minute show for a half hour slot, or a 44-45 minute show for an hour slot. We can sort of play with the length. We’re just finding our sea legs to see what works and what doesn’t.
TMS: Well, it seems like a really cool idea! Shifting gears to your acting stuff for a second…obviously, our readers have loved seeing you on stuff like The Flash as Trickster, or hearing you as The Joker. When you’re taking on new projects now, what do you look for in a role? What kind of thing speaks to you these days?
Hamill: I always like a challenge. I like doing things that I’ve never really done before. I felt like that when I did a Broadway musical. I’ve never done one of those before. The thing is, I’ve been really lucky, because there’s been such a resurgence of interest in things that I was associated with before. Not just Flash and the Joker coming back, or Luke coming back, but Chris Roberts and I got together again to do…not really a sequel to Wing Commander, because he doesn’t own the rights to that, but it’s for all intents and purposes a sprawling space saga that Chris does so well. And again, I didn’t need to read the script on that, I trust him so much, and I wanted to work with him again. I like a challenge, and I like it to be fun. If you can’t have fun doing what you’re doing, what’s the point?
I’ve been on shows where it’s really dreary, and this guy’s not talking to that person, and he won’t come out of his trailer until that person does X, Y, or Z. Life’s too short! We’ve gotta have fun! So that’s pretty much what I’m looking for — a good time.
If you wanna join Mark Hamill on his Pop Culture Quest, you can subscribe to Comic-Con HQ for access! Comic-Con HQ is currently offering a free trial, after which plans are as low as $5/month.
(featured image via Comic-Con HQ)
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