Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is the central hero of the original Star Wars trilogy, and has become an iconic part of cinema and popular culture. As Star Wars: Episode VIII (2017) begins principle filming, it has been revealed that Luke Skywalker will play a larger role in the upcoming film than in The Force Awakens (2015). In Episode VII, Luke is alluded to throughout the film, but has gone into hiding, and (SPOILER) it is only in the last climactic seconds of the film that he appears on camera.
The reset of Star Wars canon and the creation of Star Wars Legends has taken much of what fans knew about Luke’s personality and personal history and erased it to make way for the new stories surrounding the new trilogy of films. This list concerns itself with canon, and everything discussed should be understood as being canon unless otherwise noted. It includes both “in universe” facts about Luke Skywalker and production facts that deal with the creation or development of the character.
Here are 12 Things You Didn’t Know About Luke Skywalker:
12. The Voice of Iconic Villains
Mark Hamill is undoubtedly known for his performance as Luke Skywalker, but he also has also voiced the iconic role of the Joker in many animated mediums, including television, movies, and video games. Hamill is currently nominated for a BAFTAGames Award for his vocal performance as the Joker. He is also set to voice the Joker in an animated version of the fan-favorite comic The Killing Joke.
The Joker isn’t the only villain who has Hamill to thank for a voice – and one villain happens to be from a galaxy far, far away! In Star Wars: Clone Wars (2008), Hamill was the voice of the Force spirit of the Sith Lord Darth Bane. While fan theories about Luke being Kylo Ren or a Sith Lord don’t seem to have been accurate, Hamill might have some Sith in him after all.
11. Luke’s Sexuality Isn’t Known
While Luke Skywalker married Mara Jade in Star Wars Legends, the reset of Star Wars canon has meant that we know surprisingly little about Luke. Despite the fact that he is a central character in the original trilogy and appears to be an integral part of the ongoing sequel trilogy, many things about Luke’s character are no longer established.
Recently, when asked about Luke Skywalker’s sexuality, Mark Hamill responded:
His sexuality is never addressed in the films. Luke is whatever the audience wants him to be, so you can decide for yourself.
It’s true that Luke acts as an audience surrogate, traveling the galaxy with them and learning about the mysterious powers of the Force as they do, but in many ways, Luke himself is a mystery. However, many people involved in Episode VIII have said that Luke will play a larger role in the film, giving fans the prospect of new information about the man at the center of the Star Wars universe.
10. His original name was Anakin Starkiller
In the earliest drafts of Star Wars, the young protagonist’s name was not Luke Skywalker. Instead, the hero’s name was initially Anakin Starkiller. While Anakin was changed to Luke before filming began, Mark Hamill has revealed that his name was Luke Starkiller for months into the production. The name “Starkiller”, however, was considered to be too violent and menacing for a hero. Lucas later said that he was worried that audiences might connect “Starkiller” with cult leader and serial killer Charles Manson.
Despite the fact that neither “Anakin” nor “Starkiller” became Luke’s name, they both made multiple appearances in the Star Wars universe. Anakin, of course, was given to Luke’s father, Darth Vader, and became the name of multiple Star Wars Legends characters, including Han and Leia’s third child, Anakin Solo. Starkiller was also used multiple times in the Star Wars universe, including for Galen “Starkiller” Malek, the protagonist of The Force Unleashed and the name of the Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens.
9. Episode IV Isn’t Luke’s First Run-In With Kenobi
Luke Skywalker’s life growing up on Tatooine is explored in the new canon novelization of Episode IV, called A New Hope: The Princess, The Scoundrel, and The Farm Boy. Since the book is aimed at young readers, some of its additional content deals with Luke’s childhood on Tatooine. While his uncle Owen tried to discourage Luke’s adventurous nature from a young age, his aunt Beru secretly encouraged him, taking him to the HoloNet to see different kinds of planets and climates. By the time Luke was a teenager, he was piloting a T-16 Skyhopper and shooting womp rats with great finesse.
When Luke was eight years old, he tried to stand up to thugs sent by Jabba the Hutt, and was knocked unconscious. He was saved, however, by the mysterious Ben Kenobi, who had been watching over him and returned him safely to his bed. Luke did not remember Kenobi’s kindness, but Obi-Wan was always protecting him.
8. Tosche Station
Many fans know Luke’s whiny complaint to his Uncle Owen: “But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!” But Tosche Station wasn’t originally going to be a throwaway line. In fact, Tosche Station is the setting of a deleted scene from A New Hope in which Luke does – as his uncle predicts – “waste time with his friends,” including Biggs Darklighter. In this scene, Biggs tells Luke that he is going to run away to join the Rebel Alliance, which may help to inspire Luke to help Princess Leia and Obi-Wan Kenobi. The scene also reveals that Luke, like Biggs, already has sympathy for the Rebellion, even though he wants to enroll in the Imperial academy as a pilot.
While the scene at Tosche Station didn’t make the final cut, Biggs appears and greets Luke before the assault on the Death Star. Unfortunately, Biggs dies in the battle, so their reunion is bittersweet.
7. A Self-Taught Jedi
Many fans debate the length of Luke’s training. In contrast to the padawan learners of the Jedi Order before the rise of the Empire, Luke is too old for training. After all, Anakin was considered too old at nine, and Luke is a decade older when he crosses paths with Obi-Wan in A New Hope.
Luke’s training, because of circumstance, is highly unorthodox. After a brief period of time with Obi-Wan, learning the philosophy and basic principles of the Force, Luke is suddenly left on his own to navigate his newly found abilities. While it seems that Luke’s abilities evolve overnight, it is important to remember – and many fans forget – that there is a three-year period between the events of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
During that time, Luke becomes a self-taught Jedi. He learns about Jedi history from Taneetch Soonta, visits and trains at the Jedi Temples on and Vrogas Vas, finds and reads Kenobi’s journals from Tatooine, and experiments with his own Force abilities through trial-and-error. He also is exposed to a number of Jedi holocrons while imprisoned by Grakkus the Hutt. Luke’s abilities take time to develop, especially because, without a mentor, he does not know what he is capable of through the Force.
6. Luke’s Time on Dagobah is Up for Debate
It’s not necessarily clear how long Luke spent training with Jedi Master Yoda on the remote planet of Dagobah. Because his training occurs simultaneously with Han and Leia’s run from the Empire and later captivity in Cloud City, it does not appear to be a long period of time, but there are no clear markers that indicate how much time has passed. The writers of the West End Games Style Guide for the creation of Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game estimate that Luke spent around six months on Dagobah training, which seems to balance the seemingly short amount of time that has passed for Han and Leia with the growth of Luke from his long and grueling training.
However, Pablo Hidalgo, the creative executive of the Lucasfilm Story Group, tweeted that it might be possible that Dagobah, as a Force-strong location, exists outside of normal time. He cites the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back, which describes descending into Dagobah as being entering a dream that is separate from the rest of the galaxy.
5. Mark Hamill’s Car Accident Led to the Wampa Attack… Maybe?
Like many pieces of Star Wars lore, the story of how the wampa scene came to be depends on who you talk to. Some facts are not disputed: Mark Hamill was in a car accident around the time that A New Hope (1977) was finishing up production. He damaged his face in the injury, fracturing his nose and left cheekbone. The injury was so severe that cartilage from Hamill’s ear was used to help to fix his nose.
Carrie Fisher has said that the wampa scene was moved to the beginning of the movie in order to explain Hamill’s changed facial features. However, George Lucas claims that while the scene helped to give an explanation, it was not created for the sole purpose of explaining Hamill’s changed appearance. After all, as Lucas points out, multiple years have passed between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and there could be many wartime injuries. George Lucas has been known to modify the story of the process behind Star Wars, often to make everything seem as if it were planned ahead of time, so many fans do not take him at his word.
Whether or not the wampa scene was created in order to explain Mark Hamill’s changed appearance, it definitely did the job. The make-up department worked from Hamill’s existing scars in order to create the wounds that Luke is left with after being mauled by the wampa. Director Irwin Kershner was careful in how Luke’s face was displayed before the wampa attack. Regardless of how much was changed, the scene acted as an effective way to explain Luke’s injuries.
4. Luke Is Younger Than You Might Think
Luke Skywalker’s age was unclear until Revenge of the Sith established the exact time of his birth, making him nineteen years old at the beginning of A New Hope. Given the time gaps between films, this means that he is twenty-two in The Empire Strikes Back, twenty-three in Return of the Jedi (1983), and around fifty-three in The Force Awakens. Despite his wild and wizened appearance, Luke is a middle-aged man who could live another five decades or more – depending on the medical technology.
Of course, Mark Hamill is almost a decade older than his character at sixty-four, but then again, the ages of characters in Star Wars don’t always parallel the ages of actors. In many ways, Luke follows in the footsteps of Obi-Wan. Revenge of the Sith (2005) revealed that Obi-Wan was fifty-seven years old in A New Hope, even though Sir Alec Guinness was sixty-three. Both Jedi Masters may have aged harshly because of the rough climates and conditions that they faced in their years of solitary self-imposed exile.
3. Luke’s Lightsabers
Many fans know that Luke used his father’s lightsaber up through his duel with Darth Vader in Cloud City. However, details about the lightsaber that he constructed between The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi have just emerged with the new canonical retelling of Episode VI for children, Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side! In the book, Luke spends the months between Cloud City and Jabba’s Palace gathering pieces for a new lightsaber, but he is not able to finish it until he visits Ben Kenobi’s old hut on Tatooine. There, he finds the last pieces that he needs, right before he goes to save the frozen Han from the Hutt crime lord.
2. The Hero With a Thousand Faces
Luke Skywalker, as the main protagonist of Star Wars, pulls from a diverse group of inspirations, from Flash Gordon to classic mythology. One of the most prominent parallels is that of King Arthur, who was an orphan who grew up in obscurity, was mentored by the wise wizard Merlin (or, perhaps, Obi-Wan), and went on to become a fierce and wise warrior and ruler.
George Lucas purposefully used Joseph Campbell’s theory of the monomyth, from his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces; Campbell’s framework of the hero’s journey could be applied to many figures throughout legends, myths, folklores, and literature. Luke Skywalker became a prime example of the monomyth, like King Arthur and Odysseus before him, setting out on a journey into the unknown. Because he was quickly associated with the work as one of the thousand faces of a hero, Luke was even featured on the cover of the one of the reprints of Campbell’s book.
1. The Force Awakens Leaked Script Tells Us A Lot
While Luke Skywalker does not appear in The Force Awakens until the closing moments, a leaked draft of the script contained a surprising amount of information. First, fans learned that when Luke appeared in Rey’s vision with R2-D2, it was in front of a “burning temple at night”.
Details about the final scene were also revealed. The script says that Luke was hiding on a planet called Ahch-To. The name may not carry significance, but speculation has included the fact that “Ahch” is the Hebrew word for “brother” or that “Ahch-To” is a phonetic spelling of “Act Two”. Upon seeing Rey, Luke is described as having:
A kindness in his eyes, but there’s something tortured, too. He doesn’t need to ask her who she is, or what she is doing here. His look says it all.
After Rey offers Luke the lightsaber, the script reads:
HOLD ON LUKE SKYWALKER’S INCREDIBLE FACE, amazed and conflicted at what he sees, as our MUSIC BUILDS, the promise of an adventure, just beginning…
Luke understands why Rey has come, perhaps better than Rey herself understands, but he is filled with inner conflict, which will surely be explored in the upcoming film.
Are there any unexpected anecdotes or facts about Luke Skywalker that you know but think most fans don’t? Add to our list in the comments!