Not that he’s ever really been away, or been seen as anything other than a hero to millions of kids of all ages worldwide, but Mark Hamill must be wondering when this crazy Star Wars rollercoaster is going to reach its peak.

As the world waits for his first major appearance in December’s The Last Jedi (#ignitethegreen) he talks to the New York Times about his past experiences, his first post-Star Wars era and the current state of play as Star Wars popularity is as high as ever.

(W)hen Mr. Lucas invited him and Ms. Fisher to a lunch in 2012, to tell them he was giving control of Lucasfilm to Kathleen Kennedy and that a new “Star Wars” trilogy was being planned, Mr. Hamill had no expectation of being asked to participate. “We figured we had the middle three,” he said. “It was over.”

When Mr. Lucas said their characters would be included in these new films if they wanted to play them, Mr. Hamill said, “I was completely stunned. Carrie, not a minute went by — she slapped the table and goes, ‘I’m in!’ I said, ‘Carrie, poker face!’”

Mr. Hamill needed more time to think. “I was just really scared,” he said. “I thought, why mess with it? The idea of catching lightning in a bottle twice was ridiculously remote.”

He also feared that audiences would reject him and his veteran co-stars, all these years after their “Star Wars” heyday. “No one wants to see the 50-, 60-, 70-year-old versions of us, running around, bumping heads on the Death Star,” he said. “It’s sad.”

Mr. Hamill thought he would have some cover to refuse “The Force Awakens,” expecting that Mr. Ford would not return.

“He’s too old and too rich and too cranky,” Mr. Hamill said. “He’s not going to do this.” But when Mr. Ford said yes, Mr. Hamill realized he had to agree, too: “Can you imagine if I was the only one to say no? I’d be the most hated man in nerd-dom.”