It goes without saying that many of us are extremely concerned about Episode VII. Most of those concerns are valid, such as is the film being rushed, is Abrams up to the task, is the mere idea of a sequel insane, etc. I definitely share those concerns, but one area where I do not have the slightest worry is when it comes to the ages of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford. And personally, I don't understand why that's even an issue given the track record of "elderly" people in Star Wars.
I never saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and I probably never will. Not because I think it's a horrible movie or anything, but because I was never a fan of the franchise to begin with. I was eight when The Last Crusade came out, and I couldn't have been more bored. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the film, or the ones that preceded it. In fact, I do understand their appeal. They just had no hold over me. The simple fact of the matter is that my mind and imagination had already departed for outer space, for I was completely enthralled with Star Wars. Thus, to me, Harrison Ford will always be Han Solo, not Indiana Jones.
It's been said that the ages of Hamill, Fisher, and Ford will be a detriment to Episode VII, just as it's perceived that Ford's age was a detriment to Crystal Skull. This is where I couldn't disagree more.
The roles of older people in Star Wars have always been its strongest attribute. Palpatine, Tarkin, Dodonna, Kenobi, Yoda — even Dooku to a lesser extent — have all been amazing, and the best parts of the films. Ian McDiarmid, for example, played the hell out of Palpatine; his portrayal almost single-handedly salvaged the prequels for me.
Now we have a chance to see Hamill, Fisher, and Ford shine, and I personally think it will be glorious.
Mark Hamill has come a long way since he last portrayed Luke Skywalker. His greatest achievement, I think it can be safely said, is his two decades of playing The Joker, which I think will help him make his return to Luke Skywalker a legendary one. I believe he'll use hints of his Joker portrayal to play Luke as more Yoda-ish — wise yet playful — and less Obi-Wan. Regardless, Hamill's maturity and respect for the fans will ensure that he plays Luke with gravitas and power. And speaking of power, anyone worried that Hamill doesn't have the martial prowess to pull off Skywalker should remember that the ability to wield a lightsaber is only a tiny part of what a Jedi Master can do.
Fisher, too, has come a long way since her days of playing Leia. And those days have been both dark and a source of great humor for her, something I think she will use to great effect with her return to the role. As with Hamill, Fisher's age will be no handicap, because Leia's greatest strength has always been her skill at politics. I see her being more Hillary Clinton or Condoleeza Rice and less foil for Han Solo (though I'm sure they will have their spats). Besides, all she has to do is pull the trigger of a blaster, and she will be a great asset in any firefight.
Which brings us to Ford, who might be the weakest link in this chain. Ford's made no secret of his disdain for both * Star Wars* and Han Solo. This could cause him to "phone in" his performance, but I don't think he will. First off, I doubt Abrams would allow it. And even if he did, I have the feeling that being back with Fisher and Hamill will give Ford the boost he needs to at least make his performance passable.
I don't deny that this whole thing is a long shot. In the end, the actors are at the mercy of their script and their director. But if Abrams and the scriptwriters have any intelligence whatsoever, they will allow their stars to shine rather than fall into the abyss of a shitty plot. Either way, the age of the actors should be the least of our concerns.