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Original ‘Zombieland’ Script Killed Mark Hamill in Wild Zombie Lightsaber Fight

Screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick planned for Hamill cameo before filming with Bill Murray.

Mark Hamill'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' film premiere, Arrivals, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, USA - 16 Dec 2019

Mark Hamill

John Salangsang/Shutterstock

Ruben Fleischer’s 2009 apocalypse comedy “Zombieland” is well known for featuring a Bill Murray cameo in which the comedian is killed after being mistaken for the undead. It turns out Murray was far from the first choice to be featured as the “Zombieland” celebrity cameo. Screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick revealed on social media Patrick Swayze was their top choice, although the actor was battling pancreatic cancer at the time and was too sick to film. Sylvester Stallone was the second choice, followed by “Star Wars” legend Mark Hamill. The writers never considered Murray because “we never in our wildest imagination thought we could get him,” so they went forward and drafted a “Zombieland” script with Hamill in a cameo role.

Similar to Murray’s cameo in the “Zombieland” theatrical cut, Hamill was set to be introduced after the four main characters — Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) — stumbled into his home while venturing through Hollywood. Hamill’s mansion in the film is decked out in “Star Wars” memorabilia. Tallahassee tells the group he idolized Hamill when he was younger and got made fun of for it. Tallahassee ran into Hamill in Las Vegas years later and spit in the “Star Wars” actor’s cocktail. Hamill told Tallahassee if they ever saw each other again he would “break his fucking face.”

Flashforward to the present and Tallahassee and Little Rock are watching the original “Star Wars” in Hamill’s living room and Columbus is taking Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber off the wall and swinging it around. Wichita finds a stereo and when she turns it on John Williams’ “Star Wars” theme “cranks from the speakers.” Hamill eventually appears, but he’s “zombified” and “horrifying.” Zombie Hamill chases Columbus around the mansion while the other characters watch “Star Wars.” Hamill takes Darth Vader’s lightsaber from the wall and a fight breaks out. Just as Hamill is about to defeat Columbus, Tallahassee appears holding a Sand People gaffi stick. A duel breaks out between Tallahassee and Hamill that leaves the latter getting his hand cut off, just like in “The Empire Strikes Back.” Hamill dies after Tallahassee body slams him and his head slams into a concrete planter.

Hamill never signed on to star in “Zombieland,” so the scene had to be reworked once Murray was booked for the cameo role. Wernick released the script pages for the original Hamill scene on social media over the weekend. Read the scene in its entirety below.

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