Star Wars: The Force Awakens has a multitude of mysteries that fans desperately want to solve. But none of them are as large as the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). The farmboy turned Jedi Knight will definitely be in Star Wars 7, but his face has not appeared in any of the marketing materials, a decision that writer/director J.J. Abrams calls "no accident."
Even though Luke has been absent from the promotional campaign, he seems to be a primary driving force of the film's narrative. Abrams, who initially turned down the offer to direct Force Awakens, was swayed when Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy asked him the tantalizing question: "Who is Luke Skywalker?" The director still can't publicly answer that query, but he was able to provide some details regarding the character.
In EW's extensive coverage of Star Wars 7 this week, Abrams took the time to discuss the return of Luke and how he'll factor in to The Force Awakens. Hamill's screen time is rumored to be minimal, but it sounds like it'll make a great impact when he's finally revealed:
“No one forgot about him! We were hoping people would care, but there are a lot of things that are not on the poster, as busy as the poster is. Certainly Luke is a very important aspect of the story.”
It's long been speculated that the plot of Star Wars 7 involves Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) embarking on a quest to find Luke (who is secluded somewhere in isolation) when they discover his original lightsaber from The Empire Strikes Back. EW could confirm that it is indeed that weapon that Finn is using in various marketing materials, and that it is a vital piece of the puzzle that will reveal Luke's fate. Cue the various fan theories...
Speaking of Finn, Boyega was asked about how his character perceives Luke. Since Finn was a stormtrooper at one point in his life, he obviously has a different idea of what the elder Skywalker stood for when compared to the average moviegoer:
“For Finn, he’s been raised from the ashes of the Empire. He’s been taught about Luke Skywalker, he knows about his history. For him it’s like joining the army and then learning about one of the great enemies of your country. It has that effect on him. But in terms of the Force, and the magical stuff that happens, that is the point where Finn kind of questions what is what. What is the Force, what part does Luke Skywalker play in all of this?”
Abrams told EW that one of the most interesting aspects about making Force Awakens was telling a story that took place decades after Return of the Jedi; enough time so that the exploits of Luke and his friends have gone down in legend. That was one of the more controversial elements of the third and final trailer, but it's nice to see that the old Galactic Civil War hasn't been completely removed from the history books. Abrams alludes in his interview that Rey is the one with the most catching up to do because of her background, which is something we theorized when we explained why the Jedi as myth makes sense.
Finally, Hamill (somewhat) broke his silence on reprising his iconic role, but could not really discuss the experience he had working with Abrams on the set. When asked what the most interesting piece of direction he received was, Hamill said that to answer that would "give away the secrets of Episode VII." However, he did have a piece of advice for fans wondering what questions they should be asking about Luke heading into December:
“None! There should be no questions. You go in and it’s a brand new fresh approach at a franchise that we’ve known all our lives."
That will be easier said than done, as everyone has formed their own hypothesis regarding what's happened to Luke in the years since we last saw him. Whether the mystery box technique pays off in a movie experience that lives up to the hype remains to be seen, but it won't be long now before all the answers are revealed.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.