Mark Hamill to Host ESPN Star Wars Special Connecting Sports and Lightsaber Duels — *UPDATED*

Mark Hamill to Host ESPN Star Wars Special Connecting Sports and Lightsaber Duels — *UPDATED*


Mark Hamill to Host ESPN Star Wars Special Connecting Sports and Lightsaber Duels

A few days before the premiere of one of the most anticipated movies of the decade, ESPN’s SC Featured will connect the world of sports with the world of Star Wars in a half-hour special.

Examining the sport and athleticism behind the choreography and training utilized in the making of Star Wars lightsaber duels, Star Wars: Evolution of the Lightsaber Duel, hosted by Mark Hamill, will air Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. The documentary will precede the Friday, Dec. 18, launch of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in U.S. theaters.

“Lightsaber duels from the Star Wars films are some of cinema’s most recognized battles and an iconic part of the most popular movie franchise of all time,” said Craig Lazarus, ESPN vice president, SportsCenter & News, Storytelling Units.

“We will take viewers on a unique journey that examines the connection of these duels to sports and their evolution, from the original trilogy through the prequels, and now to Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” said Lazarus. “Viewers will see the transition from fencing and samurai swordplay in the original films to an increased focus on martial arts and the sport of kendo.”



For the documentary, ESPN traveled to the 2015 Kendo World Championships in Japan to gather interviews and information to explain the genesis of kendo and how it applies to Star Wars lightsaber duels.

Hamill, who reprises his role of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, lived in Japan for his last two years of high school and is very familiar with kendo.

“I really feel that kendo has informed so much of what we have done in the films it is about time that it gets some long-overdue recognition,” Hamill said.

Mark Hamill records narration

Mark Hamill records narration

“What people don’t realize is how much goes into what appears to be just minutes on the screen,” Hamill said. “The elaborate choreography for the actual fight is done on several different sets over a period of weeks and then it is edited down to what you see on the screens, so I am happy people are able to see the amount of work that goes into it.”

The program also will include behind-the-scenes video of actor John Boyega, who plays Finn in the new film, as he trains for a lightsaber battle scene. Boyega is interviewed for the program as is his kendo trainer, Paul Vincent.

SC Featured also traveled to England to interview actor Ian McDiarmid, who portrayed Emperor Palpatine in previous Star Wars films and Nick Gillard, kendo expert and former Star Wars stunt man and choreographer.

New interviews with film director/producer J.J. Abrams and Jonathan W. Rinzler, Lucasfilm historian, are also part of the documentary along with rare, behind-the-scenes footage from the Lucasfilm archive.

On Oct. 19, the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuted during halftime of ESPN’s Monday Night Football game between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, with tickets for the movie going on sale immediately afterward.


Check out this official promotional image!


And here are a few additional behind-the-scenes photos featuring Mark Hamill:

You can read more about Star Wars: Evolution of the Lightsaber Duel on

Thank you to ESPN for the press release, video, and images.

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