Why Mark Hamill Preferred Tatooine’s Heat To Hoth’s Frigid Cold While Filming Star Wars

According to Time Magazine’s contemporaneous reporting, Tatooine was originally conceived as a jungle planet, and Lucas considered shooting in the Philippines. However, Lucas decided against shooting in the jungle and changed the setting to a desert and the shooting location to Tunisia. The desert wasn’t free of problems; the heat caused equipment malfunctions, and a rain storm set the production behind schedule.

Despite how different Norway was from Tunisia, history repeated itself during the “Empire Strikes Back” shoot. Director Irvin Kershner recounted how, the night before the shoot was set to begin, Finse got hit with a snowstorm, and the crew had to dig themselves out. They couldn’t even film outside because the cold temperatures made the film brittle; as it ran through the camera, it would crack.

To ensure the first day wasn’t a total loss, Kershner set the camera in the kitchen doorway and had Hamill run around in the snow a few feet away (this would be used when Luke is running away from the Wampa). Kershner expressed sympathy for Hamill, saying, “The crew [was] nice and toasty and [Hamill] has to go out there and waddle around in the snow.” 

In 2020, Hamill spoke to StarWars.com about his memories of Norway:

“They had scouted a location that was going to take us 90 minutes to get to, where there was a glacier that had blue ice that photographed blue on camera. I was very excited to see it and then, as happens in filmmaking, it was one of the worst snowstorms in I don’t know how many years. We wound up filming right outside the lodge. I mean, if you turned the camera around you saw people on their balconies having their hot chocolate as Harrison [Ford] and I were acting next to a dead tauntaun.”

The Norway shoot continued to be plagued by everything from sub-zero temperatures to avalanches.

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