Jason Reitman’s Live Performance of “Empire” a Success


Last Thursday evening not only served as the official one year mark until the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it also served as a “one night only” performance of the Film Independent’s “live read” of The Empire Strikes Back. Directed and curated by filmmaker Jason Reitman, the exclusive show featured several beloved movie stars including the legendary Mark Hamill.

Aaron Paul, Stephen Merchant, Jessica Alba, Dennis Haysbert, Kevin Pollak, Rainn Wilson, Mark Hamill, J.K. Simmons, Ellen Page and Jason Reitman outside the Ace Hotel Theatre in Los Angeles.


Variety’s Matthew Chernov had the whole story in a post that first went up Friday morning.

From the Variety report:

"“Welcome to the first live screening of ‘The Interview!’”So teased Jason Reitman at the start of Thursday’s live reading of “The Empire Strikes Back” held in downtown Los Angeles. The event, part of Film Independent’s Live Read series, was moved from its previous home at LACMA to the larger Ace Hotel Theatre due to audience demand.“We needed a few more seats for this one,” quipped Reitman, who directs the events."

The December 18th performance of The Empire Strikes Back wasn’t the first “live read” of a famous movie script that Jason Reitman has produced, although it’s clear that Star Wars movies aren’t your typical cinema fare. Reitman spoke about the unique approach that he took in directing this particular stage performance.

More from the Variety report:

"The screenplay for “The Empire Strikes Back” was written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan, but the version performed was slightly different than the one that audiences are familiar with. “This is a transliteration of several drafts,” Reitman explained before the show. “There’s material in here that was not used in the final script.” The changes were extremely subtle, however, with no drastic alterations to the plot or characters."

For the hundreds of Star Wars fans gathered to enjoy the show, it was decidedly a highlight of the evening when Reitman introduced Mark Hamill as reading for the parts of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Emperor Palpatine.

From the Variety report:

"But it was the surprise appearance of beloved Star Wars icon Mark Hamill, reading the roles of Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Emperor, that brought the audience to its feet for a spontaneous standing ovation.“I hope I pass the audition,” Hamill joked as the applause continued."

Following the “live read” of The Empire Strikes Back, actors Aaron Paul and Mark Hamill were photographed together outside of the Ace Hotel Theatre in Los Angeles.

On Saturday evening, Mark Hamill took to Twitter to express his admiration for Aaron Paul’s performance as Luke Skywalker, the very role that Hamill brought to life in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back.

"Saturday, December 20th 20146:43 pm EST“Loved his Luke! Like all great actors, @aaronpaul_8 made the part his own. Glad I was there, wonderful to behold.” ~ @HamillHimself"

The “one night only” event brought out its’ fair share of both Star Wars fans and celebrities. The Clone Wars voice actor and Star Wars Celebration host James Arnold Taylor was on hand, and offered his praise for the great Mark Hamill through his Twitter feed.

"Friday, December 19th 20143:22 am EST“@HamillHimself gave a surprise visit tonight to a live reading of #EmpireStrikesBack and brought the house to its feet! Way to go Mark!”~ @JATactor"

Fan favorite James Arnold Taylor poses with SModCo’s J.C. Reifenberg, outside of the Ace Hotel Theatre on Thursday, December 18th.

For more on Jason Reitman and last week’s “live read” of The Empire Strikes Back, read the whole story at Variety.