Mark Hamill and Sir Patrick Stewart, more famously known as Luke Skywalker and Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the world of pop culture, bring to life the Star Wars vs. Star Trek showdown intergalactic nerds have all been bickering about for decades in a fun new campaign for Uber Eats.
Created out of agency Special Group and directed by Smuggler’s Guy Shelmerdine, the series of spots sees the two space leaders facing off in a dark warehouse—but there’s not a light saber or phaser in sight. Rather, Hamill wields a baseball bat and Sir Pat a cricket paddle as they confront each other about their meal-time preferences.
“Tonight, I’ll be eating a veggie cheeseburger on ciabatta, no to-may-tos,” Hamill says as he stares down his foe.
“Tonight, I’ll be eating four-cheese tortellini with extra toh-mah-tos,” Stewart responds.
But before either gets a chance to strike, the doorbell rings twice. One, for, Hamill’s delivery and another for Stewart’s. Thanks to Uber Eats, conflicting meal orders can co-exist in a single universe.
The push also includes a pair of shorter spots. One depicts the pair in an air hockey showdown and the other, in a match of Connect Four.
According to director Shelmerdine, the spots were all fully scripted by the agency. “Stewart and Hamill did perform a few improvised takes but ultimately it was the scripted versions that rose to the top in the edit,” he says.
For Shelmerdine, the opportunity to direct both icons was “an absolute career high,” and he made sure he properly prepared for the moment. “ Prior to the shoot I put in a lot more preparation in terms of what I was looking for from them,” he says. “That was partly because we only had limited time with them on the day of the shoot and I didn’t want to waste a second.”
It also helped that “both Hamill and Stewart wanted to also make these great,” he says. “Neither of them had ever been in a commercial before so for them it was a chance to do something great in short form. I was delighted with how seriously they both took the task in hand. In the pre-production conversations, it was evident from the get-go that they wanted these to be as incredible as the rest of us. They both trusted me and the commercial process and were extremely collaborative.”
In directing the ads Shelmerdine ultimately wanted to preserve the simplicity of the agency’s idea and “not allow it to get too broad or over-egged,” he explains. “My goal was for there to be a balance between strong cinematic aesthetic and deadpan comedy. I made decisions based on what would ‘actually’ really happen in this situation if Hamill and Stewart were to come together for a fight. Typically what I like best in comedy is the nuance you can get in performance from reality. Once you find that you can milk it.”
The actors themselves, apparently, had their own hurdles. “During the pre-production conversations, Hamill was apprehensive about baiting Stewart into a fight,” Shelmerdine says. “He felt that it was not in his ‘good guy’ nature to be rude to such as distinguished actor as Sir Patrick Stewart." Shelmerdine, who’s from the U.K., says “to Patrick’s credit, we were able to get him over that hurdle by taking him out for lunch and explaining the fun of good old fashioned English wit. In England it is quite acceptable to call your best friend an arsehole.”