Back in December, the weekly ForceCast had a discussion about actors returning to roles they had initially portrayed many years previous. It was petitioned that if Mark Hamill was to return to the role of Luke Skywalker in Episode VII, he would be returning to the role 32 years after he last portrayed the character, and it was probably some sort of record.
There was discussion about a few other actors that reprised roles from their past (such as Paul Newman in the role of 'Fast' Eddie Felson, originally in The Hustler
(1961) and again in 1986's The Color of Money
; a total of 25 years!) and whether Mark Hamill would get top honors in his return to play the Jedi Master, or was there some other actor that holds the record for an even greater length of time?
Below are some actors in famous roles that they returned to after a period of time:
- Ian McDiarmid returned as Palpatine in Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) 16 years after his appearance in Return of the Jedi (1983)
- Leonard Nimoy, while having originated Spock in 1966, took his longest break from the character between Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) and Star Trek (reboot-2009), a total of 18 years
- Harrison Ford played Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989), 19 years prior to returning as Indy in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
- Bob Hoskins beats some of our favorites to return as Mr Smee 20 years after his first portrayal, Hook (1991) to Neverland (2011)
- gravelly voiced Peter Cullen came back as Optimus Prime 21 years after Transformers: The Movie (1986) in Transformers (2007) the live-action film!
- Elisabeth Sladen* from Dr Who took a 23 year break (see full details below)
- Jeff Bridges donned a digital suit as Kevin Flynn again in TRON Legacy (2010), 28 years after the original TRON (1982)
but the current winner is (near as we can tell)...
- Christopher Lee as Sherlock Holmes! Returning 29 years after Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962) in Incident at Victoria Falls (1991)
This is to say, that if Mark Hamill does return as Luke Skywalker he will hold the record for longest break between portrayals of the same character, with 32 years!
*Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith (from Dr Who
) would be the winner at 40 years! Her last appearance in the actual Dr Who
show originally was 1976, she then reprised the role in the new incarnation of Dr Who
in 2006, but there was a special in between called "The Five Doctors" in 1983, taking her down to just 23 years. It's all sort of timey wimey mumbo jumbo with that show anyway!