Were Luke & Leia the hotties of their day?
December 30, 2010 10:34 AM   Subscribe

Were Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill (who played Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars Trilogy) considered really "good-looking" in the 70's?

Recently I watched the whole series again because on Xmas I was visiting my mom and she has cable and the Space channel was airing them all over and over. And I was thinking about how Hayden Christiansen and Natalie Portman were supposed to give birth to Luke and Leia and it seems to me that it doesn't make sense what they look like. Hayden and Natalie are both "sharp" featured and Luke and Leia are both "soft" featured. Luke and Leia should be even MORE sharp-featured. It's like when Steven Tyler marries a model and she gives birth to Liv Tyler who has even CRAZIER lips. This got me thinking about trends of good-lookingness throughout various decades, and since I was a mere toddler when Star Wars first came out, I don't really have a concept of what was considered good-looking in the 70's. Were all the stars of the 70's "soft"-featured? I understand beauty is relative, but I'm looking for someone who was an adult in the 70's to give me a sense of whether Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher were considered the hotties of their day, or if the general standard beauty around Hollywood back then was very different from what they look like.
posted by Sully to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (42 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I was 11 when the first movie came out, and, yeah, Carrie was the hotness. My real crush was Kristy McNichol, who is definitely soft featured.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:43 AM on December 30, 2010

Between Star Wars and Shampoo, I think she was pretty great looking. Youth, I'm sure was a big help, she was 19 when Star Wars was shot. She's pretty smokin' here.

Hamill? I don't know. Ladies?

Also IMHO they're both better actors than Christiansen and Portman. I'm kind of surprised by the critical free-ride that Portman has been getting in the last 10 years, which I think is just because of her looks. I'm told I need to see Black Swan.
posted by CarlRossi at 10:44 AM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

I was 27 in 1977 when "Star Wars" came out. I don't think Lucas was looking for "hotness" in his stars. Luke was supposed to look young and vulnerable, not "hot." Leia was supposed to be a princess and have a somewhat regal and take-charge demeanor. Again "hotness" was not a requirement. I think that is why the "metal bikini" was so commented upon...it showed that she had a "hot" side and that was surprising. Neither of these stars were what I considered "hot" back in the day. For '70's hot, look up Bo Derek.
posted by Lone_Wolf at 10:44 AM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

I was a teen through the 70's and Mark Hamill wasn't the male ideal. He had a kind of little-boy look that was appealing to some, but it wasn't the standard. Carrie Fisher's appeal was her body as much as her face, I 'm guessing. Interestingly though, when you look at her in her costume, she is not as lean and as cut as an actress would be now in that role.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 10:46 AM on December 30, 2010

Honestly once you start looking at it that deeply, you might as well factor in how things like space travel and radiation on foreign planets might affect human genetic structure or prenatal development.

Movie stars tend to be more good looking by modeling standards than they used to be. The bar is set higher for looks. That doesn't mean there weren't knockout beautiful stars in the 70s, but certainly our cultural aesthetic has become less forgiving. I'm sure the thinking in the casting for resemblence never went further than, "Well, Hayden is blonde! And Natalie is brunette! Just like Luke and Leia!"
posted by hermitosis at 10:46 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I always thought Han Solo was supposed to be the hottie. Luke is too boyish.
posted by two lights above the sea at 10:49 AM on December 30, 2010 [23 favorites]

I actually had this discussion with my parents. My mom told me that Mark Hamil was the teenager's heart throb (at least before his accident) and that the women all swooned for Harrison Ford. Carrie Fisher was considered "cute" by my parents.
posted by TooFewShoes at 10:50 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I was around then. Carrie Fisher was not considered really good looking, nice but not great. I went to college with her and thought she was ok. Mark Hamill was ok too, but he had a major accident that destroyed half his face. What was left of his face wasn't so good afterward. Harrison Ford then and now was good looking, really really good looking.

As for trends in people and actors, they change, but good looking lasts, like Harrison Ford's look.

As for people looking soft-ish. I think that was true for women. I remember feathered halos of hair and round faces being in vogue. In contrast, Farrah Fawectt was an icon, and she was kind of horsey (in a good way). At the same time punk was rampant, with lots of angles and spikes.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 10:53 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was about 11 when Star Wars came out, but I thought Mark Hamill was a cutie. However, it was David and Shaun Cassidy and later Matt Dillon (in the 80's) that made my heart skip a beat.

I'm not sure I know the difference between "hard" and "soft" features...
posted by patheral at 10:53 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

In her autobiography, Wishful Drinking, Carrie makes mention of how the studio wanted her to trim down a fair bit, feeding her own self-consciousness for many years after. She does a great bit in the live show for the book, where she compares herself to a 'lifesize' Leia replica.
posted by nomisxid at 11:01 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't think they were considered especially hot. I think Lucas was bound by his budget, which was cheap for a movie of Star Wars' technical ambition, so casting big-name stars wouldn't have been an option—the only recognizable (at the time) names in Star Wars were Alec Guinness and James Earl Jones. Consider some of the bigger-name stars of that era notable for good looks: Farrah Fawcett, Faye Dunaway, Meryl Streep, Barbara Bach, Jane Fonda. They all have/had sharply defined features.

I suppose a case could be made that the standard of beauty for women was more inclusive for soft-featured looks—it was in the early 80s that a more athletic look became more popular.
posted by adamrice at 11:02 AM on December 30, 2010

I always thought Han Solo was supposed to be the hottie. Luke is too boyish.

Yep. Pretty much every girl/woman I know swooned over Ford.

The one girl who crushed on Hamill got a lot of "seriously?" looks. I mean, he was ok, but really...very few guys can compete with Harrison Ford's killer smile.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 11:05 AM on December 30, 2010 [5 favorites]

I was about 10-11 when the first SW came out, and in high school by the time the first trilogy ended. I thought (and still think) all the principal actors were good looking people (well, Sir Alec was a bit craggy, but you know what I mean) in their day.

Don't forget that Lucas did the first one on a tight-ish budget, whereas he could cast anyone he wanted on the next batch.

I also think that as our society has moved to that of a bunch of morbidly obese people who are willing to go to Wal-Mart in our underwear, we demand more glamor in our actors and actresses. Seriously. Look at '70s TV and popular musicians. Not everyone is a hottie. Whereas now you can't play an assistant police coffee-fetcher or be an indie label artist without looking like a Vogue model and being a size zero, if you're female.
posted by randomkeystrike at 11:05 AM on December 30, 2010

I was around when it came out (waited 9 hours in line at midnight for a showing in NYC) and I do recall watching the first movie and finding Carrie Fisher unattractive. I just watched it again the other night and still find her unattractive (sorry, fandorks). I thought Harrison Ford was the hotness, definitely not Mark Hamill, who was too boyish. Harrison Ford was handsome and manly. The general consensus among male and female friends at the time was that Carrie Fisher was not pretty, Mark Hamill was cute but blah, and HF was a sweet piece of man meat. I agree with what Lone_Wolf said about the metal bikini - when she appeared in it her hotness factor shot through the roof. But that was more of a "wow, geeky girls look hot underneath their dorky clothes" kind of thing, or so I felt at that time. At that time, unless you were another Star Wars fan, you were made fun of for being a nerd, and nerds were not considered hot, so for Carrie Fisher to look so banging in the bikini gave Star Wars fans all over a New Hope that they too could land a girl geek hottie like her, and it was also a point of pride that one of them could be so attractive.
posted by iconomy at 11:11 AM on December 30, 2010

Best answer: I was of 16 and Tiger Beat-buying age when Star Wars was originally released. Mark Hamill was considered cute, but never achieved teen idol status. However, his "soft" good looks were en vogue at the time; witness the similar popularity at the time of Peter Frampton, Shaun Cassidy, and Leif Garrett. Flowing hair and puppy dog eyes were all the rage at the time for men. Carrie Fisher was not unattractive, but other than those golden bikini photos, she was never really considered a "beauty" during that era; certainly not in the same league as Farrah Fawcett , Lindsay Wagner, or Lynda Carter.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:15 AM on December 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

No, they weren't considered hot. Hotness was: Peter Frampton, Steven Tyler, Farrah Fawcett, Jacqueline Smith, the guys from Dukes of Hazzard, Linda Carter, Erik Estrada, Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, John Travolta in Welcome Back Kotter, Andy Gibb, the women in ABBA, Lonnie Anderson.

Oh, and they weren't hot, they were foxy.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:18 AM on December 30, 2010 [5 favorites]

Best answer: One thing to note is that Lucas decided to cast unknowns in Star Wars. As others have noted, the breakout male star in the Star Wars movies was Harrison Ford, not Mark Hamill.

You also need to separate out thinking about the teen/tween idols who were popular in the 1970's (like David Cassidy or Leif Garrett, or Robby Benson for example), versus the big adult stars of the day like Robert Redford, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, etc., etc.. They cast Hamill to appeal more to the teens. Think about the appeal(?) of Justin Bieber versus someone like Brad Pitt today.

Something that may be of interest would be this partial list of actors who were considered for various Star Wars roles, but not cast. Also, here are some Star Wars audition tapes.
posted by gudrun at 11:20 AM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I was 18 when Star Wars came out and thought Mark Hamill was very good-looking but Harrison Ford was sex on two legs. I didn't think Carrie Fisher epitomised the Hollywood standard of beauty at the time, which was the tall, leggy type - Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Farrah Fawcett, Jacqueline Bisset. She was too small and girlish.
posted by essexjan at 11:21 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Star Wars was a kid's movie. Luke & Leia were supposed to be like big kids having an adventure. Cute but not hot.
posted by aunt_winnifred at 11:25 AM on December 30, 2010 [5 favorites]

Carrie Fisher didn't really fit into the Anne Margaret>Rachel Welch>Farrah Fawcett>Bo Derek continuum I was following.

I was 15 when I finally got to see it in it's 57th week of showing, because our town didn't have a movie theatre.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:31 AM on December 30, 2010

Carrie Fisher, hot? No. Attractive in that general girl next door but could be dolled up way? Sure. I think that there are a lot of people who consider her hot but that's all predicated on the fact that she was Princess Leia and they wouldn't think so if not for that association.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:44 AM on December 30, 2010

I want to know why Mark Hammil always looked greasy and sweaty yet Harrison Ford looked like he at least had some make up on.
posted by stormpooper at 11:45 AM on December 30, 2010

Cause Harrison Ford was 35 and probably needed a little and Mark Hamill was still a fresh faced 26 and could do without? Though I agree, greeeeasy.
posted by FlamingBore at 12:01 PM on December 30, 2010

I was a teen for the re-release in the 90s and I thought all three were very attractive, but since I was a very innocent teen, Hammill's sweet-faced innocence appealed to me more. Ford wasn't attractive to me until I was old enough to appreciate Han Solo's swagger.
posted by lychee at 12:02 PM on December 30, 2010

Holy Smokes! The fact that they auditioned Cindy Williams (of Laverne & Shirley) for the part of Princess Leia (see gudrun's links above) suggests that they were not going for "hot" but rather for "girl-next-door." And Carrie Fisher was definitely "girl-next-door" rather than "hot".
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:29 PM on December 30, 2010

Too lazy to look up the release date, but I'd have been between 10-12 when Star Wars came out and I was in luuuuurve with Mark Hamill. At that time I was more into cute guys than handsome men... I had huge crushes on Leif Garrett and Shaun Cassidy in the same era. I didn't appreciate Harrison Ford until I was a little older.

Carrie Fisher... I always thought she was attractive but not particularly sexy. I don't remember hearing much about her sex appeal until her later gold-bikini scenes.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 12:42 PM on December 30, 2010

It's Hollywood, not real life. None of these people are actually genetically related. Christiansen and Portman are young enough to be Hamill and Fisher's children. Star Wars isn't real.

The bottom line about Hollywood is that for the most part you are relatively limited in your casting choices, unless you're casting a minor role with limited dialogue (in which case your only priority is to get someone who looks the part).

For one thing, when you're casting leads in a film franchise, you need to find people who are recognizable "names", or who have the potential to become household names, but who will agree to do the whole trilogy despite any stardom they might achieve. They need to be good performers who can accomplish what you need them to do - for a franchise like Star Wars this probably means they need to be able to handle Lucas' horrendous dialogue as well as be good at talking to a green screen and walking around in cumbersome costumes and makeup.

There is also a lot of casting for looks: you don't want to hire the frumpy-looking girl or trollish guy just because they resemble the original actors, you want people who push your audience's buttons, who are HOT according to the people paying money to see the film. Even if that means that, genetically, they couldn't possibly be related to the other actors. Since what audiences see as attractive changes over time, that means that it might have been more important for Leia to have "round" facial features while Amidala ends up with "pointed" ones. Because that's what tests better with the focus group, or because that's what your casting director says is "hot" for 1998.

Oh, and to answer your question more clearly, I definitely agree that there are huge aesthetic differences between actors of the 70's vs. 90's/2000's/"today". Maybe not so much for men, but it's interesting that a lot of the actresses being mentioned in this thread about "quirky" character actors were considered beautiful leading ladies in the 70's. For example Susan Sarandon, Barbra Streisand, and Angelica Huston. If those actresses were young women now, they'd probably be told to shoot for character roles on TV or maybe work behind the camera.
posted by Sara C. at 12:55 PM on December 30, 2010

Sorry to double post, but to really really answer your question regarding Mark Hamill. I have an uncle who was in college when the first movie came out. At the time he bore an uncanny resemblance to Mark Hamill. He was positively MOBBED by the ladies over it. From what I understand it would be as if a typical suburban teen just so happened to look exactly like Jake Gyllenhaal or that kid from High School Musical whose name I forget. So, yeah, I surmise that girls thought Mark Hamill was Teh Hotness back then.
posted by Sara C. at 1:00 PM on December 30, 2010

Best answer: Lucas was very loyal and he'd already worked with Cindy Williams in American Graffiti, (same with Ford.) Movies were far more forgiving in the 70s, but fashion models were where the real heat was--Patti Hansen, Jerri Hall, Cheryl Tiegs. Ditto rock stars for male beauty. 70s films are important because they didn't rely on eye candy stars.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:07 PM on December 30, 2010

As a junior high schooler I liked both Carrie Fisher and Cindy Williams, but the hotties of the day usually had at least feathered hair.
posted by rhizome at 1:14 PM on December 30, 2010

As a 15-ish-year-old, the boy I was supposed to want to look like was Leif Garrett, and the girl I most wanted to date was Kristy McNichol.

Anyway. wandering_not_lost mentioned Hamill's accident [before and after]. He's a pretty limited actor, but I think he could have traded on his looks a while longer if his car hadn't flipped or whatever it did. (On the other hand, see this.)

As for casting, I think you have to look at the roles somewhat. Ford got to play an experienced, adult rogue through and through. Both Hamill and Fisher had to play ranges from vulnerable to heroic. Heck, we see Leia standing up to Vader as a Senator's daughter and being defended to the death in her very first scene, and only later is she cowering before the torture droid. Hamill has the further problem of needing to be an actual 24/25-year old man playing a whiny teenager -- perhaps a 19-year-old, missing his first eligible year at the Academy -- for the first part of the film. It really doesn't do him much good.

Fisher had a waif look that had peaked in the 1960s (e.g. Twiggy) but was still popular. Hamill had a bland teen idol look that was right in tune with the decade. Ford had timeless good looks (and acting chops) that would make him a star in any decade.

But standards of beauty change. I remember when People magazine created its Sexiest Man Alive "award" for Mel Gibson. It was sort of a new thing to talk about guys as sexy (as if that were a feminine quality) and that was dealt with in the media. It was one of the conceits of the era that guys could be John Wayne macho, or girly teen heartthrobs, but it wasn't for a while that these were integrated again as they had been in the (say) Cary Grant era.
posted by dhartung at 2:00 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

I was a teen when Star Wars came out. In my circle Mark Hamill was seen a sort of teenybop (see, I'm authentic!) good-looking but nothing special. All the girls much preferred Han.

Fisher was seen as pretty and sexy in a feisty sort of way but again, nothing special. She sure looked like a real woman though. I miss that. Can't abide these plastic bodies and faces these days, and another thing.... NURSE! THE SCREENS!
posted by Decani at 2:24 PM on December 30, 2010

As a couple of other people have said, softness was more the fashion back then. Faces and figures were softer, hair was longer and fluffier, clothes were looser.

Then in the late seventies and eighties, there was a reaction against that look, and a harder, spikier look came into fashion with the punk/new wave look. Probably a greater emphasis on physical fitness, starting with the Aerobics trend, came into it too.

So yes, Luke and Leia's physical appearance, and their hair and clothes, were of the type fashionable at the time.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:00 PM on December 30, 2010

I just clicked on Gudrun's link. My mindgrapes are explodinated. I knew about Nolte and many of the others (Caan, Reynolds, etc) being considered for Han Solo, but Kurt Russell? As much as I like Ford as Solo, Russell as Solo would have been pure f'n GENIUS. Nobody plays "handsome lovable rogue" like Kurt Russell. NOBODY. (Christopher Walken as Solo would have been . . . interesting).
posted by KingEdRa at 3:38 PM on December 30, 2010

Yea but at the time Kurt Russell had only been the fresh-faced teen in those fluffy Disney movies. Nobody would have bought him as a tough guy, that was five years before Escape from New York came out.

Oh, and I was 13 and Carrie Fisher was hot.
posted by octothorpe at 4:17 PM on December 30, 2010

I thought Carrie Fisher was extremely attractive.

Still do.
posted by idiomatika at 4:48 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

To quote Cinematic Titanic: "Rugged good looks never go out of style."
posted by theredpen at 4:58 PM on December 30, 2010

The men I know who think or thought that Princess Leia was hot did not think she was pretty as in lovely to look at but as in very obviously available. As far as I know, this happened after the gold bikini.

There was an MTV VeeJay of the time who is also fondly remembered by these men.

They way they these two were "pretty" is not particularly respectful - not they're total dogs. I'd say they have a sniggering attitude about it, which comes out if you call them on it.

I have a bad feeling that girls are so worried about peer pressure and being who they're supposed to be that we will go for whatever's popular - not that there's anything wrong with Mark Hamill. Me, personally, I like that Robert Redford-Timothy Olyphant cute-and-flirty-semi-cowboyish look.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:19 AM on December 31, 2010

Lesser Shrew -- who is the MTV veejay?
posted by jayder at 9:06 AM on December 31, 2010

I turned ten the year Star Wars came out. Most of my friends thought Luke was dreamy, but even at ten I had an older-man thing going on. I was a Han Solo girl through and through. Hamill wasn't great but he fit into the feathered hair thing from the period. The thing I'm told that older boys who were watching Princess Leia thought was sexy about her (before the gold bikini) was the lack of a bra.

When Empire came out, and Han Solo got to show off his romantic side a la Gone With the Wind (which the big poster at the time referenced visually), almost all the girls came around to my way of thinking. The accident Mark Hamill had been in was also surely a factor, but the romantic storyline made a bigger difference IMO.
posted by immlass at 7:57 PM on December 31, 2010

Using the google and what I recall of the frankly ick conversations about her "appeal," I'm thinking it was Martha Quinn, who seems to be doing okay these days and looks less slutty in recent photos. The internets do not seem to have drug-use rumors, though, so I might be wrong.

It was not Serena Altschul, though, she (along with Bjork) was the love goddess of Sifl & Ollie.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:37 AM on January 2, 2011

I'm thinking it was Martha Quinn, who seems to be doing okay these days and looks less slutty in recent photos.

Wow, Martha Quinn. I had totally forgotten about her. She was cute.
posted by jayder at 12:01 PM on January 2, 2011

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