Uber Eats paired two of the biggest geek icons of Star Trek and Star Wars in Sir Patrick Stewart and Mark Hamill, respectively in a series of ads. The two spoke with Men's Journal to reflect on the time they led their franchises. When asked about what Hamill's first thoughts evoked when he thinks of Star Wars, he spoke fondly of Jedi Master Yoda, a puppet operated and voiced by Frank Oz first during The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
"There are so many incredible memories," Hamill said. "Getting to work with so many creative people was an immense privilege. I will always have a special fondness for Yoda because it was a character that was a way to speak about spirituality without making everyone uncomfortable talking about religion. The pleasure of having Frank Oz perform Yoda will always be a favorite memory for me because I had loved the Muppets since I was a little kid. Getting to find out what a genuinely nice and kind person Frank is, besides him being so inventive, was a dream. Since then we have formed a true friendship that has lasted to this day. We have never lost contact since we did the original trilogy and through the sequels."
Hamill talked about the rapport built throughout the original Star Wars trilogy and helping to build lifelong friendships as the crew starts to feel like family following A New Hope (1977). "The last time I went out to dinner before the pandemic hit, was with Frank and his wife Victoria," he said. "But even as amazing as that relationship has been, it is difficult to single out one specific connection that supersedes another. If I had only gotten to work with someone like Sir Alec Guinness, that would be more than enough but on those films, we had the benefit of being surrounded by the best of the best. The spirit on set was just so great because everyone was so happy to be there. Especially after the franchise started to become established. On the set of the first movie, I remember the British crew talking about how the movie was absolute rubbish and that there was no chance that it was going to be successful. They all considered themselves experts in the field of entertainment and once I started to get friendly with them they had no problem telling me their true feelings on how it was surely going to be a failure. But once that first picture came out, everything changed. Following that, every single person on that set was a believer and glad to be there."
Stewart can relate to similar camaraderie on Star Trek: The Next Generation. "I have to agree with what Mark said," Stewart added. "The job that we get to do is a curious one, in the worlds and emotions that we get to open ourselves up to. In doing so you make yourself vulnerable, and in good company that is something that is to be appreciated. Because there are risks that you are all taking. And then the job ends and everyone goes their separate ways. I often find myself wishing I had a transporter system where I could mention an actor or actress's name and they would appear in the room alongside me, so I could give them a hug and a kiss. That isn't really a feeling that most actors get to have after a project, but that is exactly how I feel about everyone involved in Star Trek Next Generation. I had no idea what a luxury that was at the time though, because I had never worked in Hollywood before that show."
Stewart reflected on his first days on the set. "I can remember my first day of shooting, which was the second day of production on the series, I was doing my first scene where I appeared on camera as Jean-Luc Picard," he continued. "I was walking down one of the Enterprise corridors, and one of the sliding automated doors opened on my left and there was Commander Riker played by Jonathan Frakes. The script had him saying something to me, and I was just supposed to nod and then walk away. The director called, 'Cut!' Then Jonathan yelled out, 'That's what they call British face-acting!' The whole crew laughed, and I remember gratefully thinking that I was going to be spending all of this time with funny people. This is going to be alright. That day was over 30 years ago, and I can say with honesty that there is no one of the principal group of actors in The Next Generation that I do not still think about, see, talk to, have dinners with, and absolutely adore. And I think it may be a little of the same for Mark with Star Wars, that that experience was unique to that project."
Hamill and Stewart both agreed on how humor provided a guiding force for their respective bonds. "It's the people you remember after something like Star Wars is finished," Hamill said. "My happiest memories are from spending time with the people, not just the main actors, but the crew, my stunt double for example. You end up spending more time with them than your family. Thinking back it was just non-stop laughter. Because if you can't have a sense of humor about something as unusual as having full-on conversations with puppets and robots while flying in outer space, you can't laugh about anything."
Hamill and Stewart talked about the kind of physical shape they had to be in for their roles. "I had never done any swordplay before Star Wars, and that was a specific skill set they needed me to have," Hamill said. "I did a lot of martial arts training leading up to the movies, like taekwondo and jiu-jitsu. The fitness training was needed to get me up to speed, but I was working with these incredible stunt coordinators, in my case, it was Peter Diamond in the United Kingdom. And the stunt double for Darth Vader was Bob Anderson who was an Olympic fencing champion. The fights were very choreographed, the fights were completely mapped out, it was all about running through them over and over again. Doing those fights in repetition was all of the fitness training I really needed at the time to get in shape."
Stewart was already physically fit taking after his father, who was in the military prior to his casting as Picard. "My father was a military man, and he ended his military career at the end of the Second World War in 1945, as a regimental sergeant major of The Parachute Regiment," he said. "For every gentleman from the outside looking in, he was a superstar. It took me decades to come to the realization of how much he influenced me not only as a man but also as an actor, especially when taking up Picard. Sadly, he passed before I started working on Star Trek, and it's one of the great sadnesses in my life that he never got to witness what he gave to me through seeing his self-discipline and hard-working spirit. So through him, I had an incredible role model for the character, even if I wasn't consciously pursuing it."
One of the most common questions that fans approach the two actors is comparing the two franchises. "I have to say that difference between Star Wars and Star Trek to me, is that Trek is classic science fiction, with humans going out to space and encountering aliens," Hamill explained. "Star Wars was purposely set in a galaxy far, far away because it is fantasy, not science fiction. I remember a good friend that I had in the 1980s was up for a part in what was going to be a new Star Trek. I told him I was shocked they were doing another one, but he said it was going to be 'this whole new thing'. I said good luck at the time because the show was already so iconic that redoing it without Spock and Kirk seemed crazy. That friend was Brent Spiner, who not only got the part and had a wonderful career playing Data but proved me wrong as far as the ability to take the series and make it their own. I have been asked on multiple occasions about a rivalry between Star Wars and Star Trek, but I have to say I feel like it is really apples and oranges. You can like either or both, or none of them. That is why this campaign struck me as funny because I knew what they were doing pitting us up against each other."
Stewart went one step further thinking of how the two universes could co-exist. "I will admit that, at least for us on Star Trek, we have fantasied about a combined universe between Star Wars and Trek movie," he said. "There have been a lot of ideas thrown about on putting together two iconic universes, and having all of these great characters coming into contact. I would personally get such a kick out of that." To read more about how Hamill and Stewart felt about working together for the Uber Eats ads and what would happen if Luke Skywalker and Picard met, you can check the rest of the interview in Men's Journal. The Skywalker Saga of Star Wars films is available to stream on Disney+. Star Trek: Picard and TNG are available to stream on CBS All Access.