Legendary actor Mark Hamill took to the stage last week at Nutanix's .NEXT conference to a thunderous applause of more than 6,000 Nutanix customers and partners to talk about his career while dishing out some comedy and words of wisdom.
“We’re going to go from high-tech to lowbrow,” said Hamill jokingly as he stepped on the stage at the end of a Nutanix keynote at .NEXT last week. “It’s oddly comforting knowing that I have the lowest IQ in the room. It’s sort of liberating.”
Hamill needed no introduction at Nutanix conference with many “Star Wars” and Batman fans in the audience voicing their appreciation of his iconic roles as Luke Skywalker and his voice work as the Joker. The 67-year-old actor spoke about the ups and downs of his career while sprinkling in some professional advice for thousands of attendees. CRN USA breaks down five words of wisdom from Hamill during Nutanix’s special guest session on stage.
You Must Take Chances
Although “Star Wars” might be a household name today, signing onto the first movie after reading the ‘“Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’ script wasn’t an easy decision, said Hamill.
“Before John Williams brilliant music and before the art direction, I’m reading this thing and I’m laughing out loud – it’s funny. Robots arguing whose fault it is? The Princess complaining when we risk our lives and she comes out saying, ‘You came in that?’ It was so relatable on a human level, it had humor, but most science fiction at that time was very dry,” said Hamill.
Hamill added that he jumped into the 1977 “Star Wars” film without even receiving the script in its entirely. “I got the part in ‘Star Wars’ not having read the whole script. They sent like eight-page scenes. I’m reading this thing thinking, ‘Is this like a parody of Flash Gordon? Is it Mel Brooks?’” said Hamill. “Harrison Ford famously told George [Lucas] when we were filming, ‘Hey George, you can write this [stuff] you just can’t say it.’ How right he was.”
Tenacity Over Talent
Hamill said having talent isn’t always necessarily the most important asset in one’s professional career.
“I think in some ways, tenacity is almost as important – if not more important – than talent,” said Hamill. “You have to have a certain amount of ability, but I hope everyone in this room loves what they do. That reminds me of one of my favorite Groucho Marx books that said, ‘Sincerity is the key to success. And once you learn to fake that, you got it made.’”
Find Inspiration Anywhere
The California native said countless innovators and successful business leaders have told him how influential Luke Skywalker and the original “Star Wars” trilogy movies have been to them, proving that inspiration can be found anywhere.
“We went to speak at a [Amazon CEO] Jeff Bezos weekend [event], and every guy I was sitting with -- all geniuses – and me. It’s like those old puzzles that say circle the one that doesn’t fit,” said Hamill. “But yet here are these nuclear scientists, these incredible innovators and so forth, telling me how the [“Star Wars”] movies inspired them to be actual droid builders in real life. It’s incredible how pop culture influences the younger generations.”
Needing A Teacher, Motivator
Hamill said having a teacher to mentor and encourage him to pursue acting played a critical for his success in a career that he was somewhat nervous to tell his family about.
“I had to kind of keep it a secret because with four sisters and two brothers, they tend to ridicule you. I remember the first teacher I had that encourages me. He was the first adult that said, ‘You know, I bet you could really make a career of this.’ He saw how committed I was and that it was really meaningful to me,” said Hamill. “This week is National Teacher Appreciation Day. I thought, ‘If I ever run for office, I would make raising teacher’s salaries part of my [campaign].’ Why can’t they be on par with lawyers, doctors and other professionals – because you want to attract the best and the brightest. They struggle so much. A lot of people say, ‘I wanted to be a teacher, but I couldn’t afford it.’”
‘My Goal Was To Make Them Really Sorry They Couldn’t Hire Me’
After the highly successful “Star Wars” films, Hamill said he wasn’t sure he’d be casted for other iconic roles in entertainment industry. Hamill said he worked through those fears and fought hard to get the voice actor part as the Joker in the popular 1990s ‘Batman: The Animated Series’.
“When Michael Keaton was going to be Batman, before anyone gave him a chance, the world just freaked out saying, ‘He’s Mr. Mom! He can’t be Batman!’ It came in the context of that,” said Hamill. “So I thought, ‘Well I’ll go through the motions of auditioning for the Joker [voice] but there’s no way they’re going to cast Luke Skywalker – this icon of virtue – as one of the most iconic villains of all time.’ My goal was to make them really sorry they couldn’t hire me.”