Mark Hamill surprised and delighted Star Wars diehards on Thursday evening in Los Angeles, when he appeared at a live reading of The Empire Strikes Back at the Ace Hotel Theatre. Hamill joined stars including Jessica Alba, Aaron Paul and Ellen Page at the reading, which was hosted by director Jason Reitman as part of Film Independent’s Live Read series.

Mark HamillMark Hamill took on a different role during a live reading of The Empire Strikes Back

But Hamill wasn't in his familiar role of Luke Skywalker, instead he joined the dark side for the evening, reading the role The Emperor as well as mimicking Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi. As the audience gave the Star Wars icon a standing ovation Hamill joked, “I hope I pass the audition.”

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With the man himself looking on, Aaron Paul took on Hamill’s role of Luke Skywalker, while Jessica Alba played Princess Leia. Dennis Haysbert became Lando Calrissian for the night, Rainn Wilson provided Chewbacca's growls while Reitman favourite J.K. Simmons’ did his best Darth Vader.

Providing some comic relief was Stephen Merchant as C-3PO and Kevin Pollak as Yoda. But one of the biggest surprises of the night came from Ellen Page who was cast in the role of Hans Solo. Despite some initial scepticism over the casting, Page put in a perfect performance as Solo, capturing the anti hero character perfectly.

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The actors read from a slightly different The Empire Strikes Back script than most fans were used to, as Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan’s final script was combined with several drafts. However, despite a few unfamiliar lines, there were no drastic alterations to the plot or any of the characters.

Ellen PageEllen Page took on the role of Hans Solo for the evening