Mark "Luke Skywalker" Hamill is living proof that a man only has so much good fortune coming to him in a lifetime. Hamill used up all of his by 1983, and has spent every year since voicing cartoons and being accosted by Star Wars geeks on the street.
But Hamill's post-Star Wars life has been wildly-successful compared to some of the other greats who suffered the same fate. Here are five men who were integral to the Star Wars franchise but whose careers outside the trilogy were almost almost as sad as Hamill's:
Imperial Officer Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin
Peter Cushing was so old-school, he actually appeared in a Laurel and Hardy movie (A Chump at Oxford). That was before George Lucas was even freaking born. Cushing was best known for his work in Hammer horror films, often opposite longtime friend Count Dooku-er, Christopher Lee. Cushing also played Dr. Who in two films and came very close to changing Star Wars history forever: he was originally considered for the role of Obi-Wan over Alec Guinness. Picture that.
Inestimable contribution to the films:
Tarkin was nothing less than the real badass of the first film. When Vader started air-choking a guy, it was Tarkin who told him to back it off and Vader did what he was told. Also, you thought it was scary when Anakin killed those kids in Episode III? Tarkin killed a whole planet's worth of them on Alderaan, and for even less reason.
Without Cushing's Tarkin next to him, Vader just looks silly with his mask and cape. Cushing's reptillian deathmask of a face made Tarkin look like a guy you could see on the news tonight, on trial for war crimes.
Most memorable line:
"You're far too trusting. Dantooine is too remote to make an effective demonstration. But don't worry, we will deal with your rebel friends soon enough."
Best Youtube video featuring character:
Our vote goes to this bizarre still of Tarkin looking particularly skeletal while a deep-voiced Latino man narrates in Spanish about God know what. If you speak Spanish, feel free to post a full translation in the comments section, as we're actually quite curious about it.
Weirdest merchandise based on character:
This full-body Tarkin costume, complete with disturbing rubber death mask and a wig of what looks like steel wire.
Best excerpt from Wikipedia entry on character:
"In an incident that became known as the 'Ghorman Massacre,' Tarkin ordered his ship to land on a platform where a large group of protesters were protesting the Imperial taxation on the distant planet Ghorman. Hundreds of Imperial subjects were crushed by Tarkin's transport in the landing."
Best excerpt from Wikipedia entry on actor:
"In 1989 Cushing was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. He retired to Whitestable, where he had bought a seafront house in 1959, and continued his hobby of birdwatching."
Where is he now?
Dead. But, between Star Wars and dying, he managed to appear in various films as a major, commissioner, commander and colonel, forever typecasting him and earning him a military funeral. He was also in a movie called Biggles: Adventures in Time which is apparently about a time-traveling WWI fighter pilot named Bigglesworth. We're guessing he didn't get knighted for that one.
Mark Hamill Career Sadness Rating: 15 (out of 100)
Cushing didn't have Hamill's high expectations, of course, because he wasn't the star. Also, he was knighted, though his knighting is one of those knightings (see Penelope Cruz) that could be seen more as a statement about how little it means to be knighted these days.