The new age of Star Wars on film has been defined by Lucasfilm's uncanny ability to keep their projects' secrets under wraps until they're ready to release something. Nobody knew what the plot of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was until the movie premiered, and though it was heavily rumored, Darth Vader's return in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was never officially confirmed until last week's rollout of information in EW. Director Gareth Edwards completed principal photography without an image of the Dark Lord leaking online.
Simply put, the studio runs a tight ship and their roster of talented actors and directors know exactly what they're allowed to share publicly in interviews and what's better kept off the record. Few (if any) are more adept at this than Mark Hamill. Known for his sense of humor, he loves interacting with the fans and has a lot of fun teasing exclusive "spoilers" about the upcoming movies (see: his comment on how he views Daisy Ridley like a daughter). The most pertinent Star Wars twists and turns are always safe in Hamill's vault, but depending on how you interpreted his latest quote, he may have let something major slip from Star Wars: Episode VIII.
During an event to promote homeless charity The Big Issue in London, Hamill mentioned "I finish Episode VIII, and then I'm out of work." Some may read this as a "clue" that Luke Skywalker will meet his demise in Rian Johnson's saga installment, but the actor later took to Twitter to clarify what exactly he meant by his comment:
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) June 27, 2016
Hamill was one of the few individuals who knew Darth Vader's true relation to Luke while filming The Empire Strikes Back (keeping it hidden from even his fellow cast members), and his Episode VII contract stipulated that a payment could be withheld if he revealed any of that film's mysteries. If it was anyone else, this could be interpreted as hasty backtracking, but Hamill always keeps a close guard up when it comes to details about his projects. He of all people is not going to drop a startling revelation like Luke's death roughly a year and a half before Episode VIII is released. Speculation can be fun, but this is an instance of everyone reading way too much into a harmless statement.
It's all but a guarantee that fans won't know Luke's ultimate fate until they settle in to watch Star Wars 8 in theaters. If Lucasfilm follows the highly successful template of the Force Awakens marketing campaign, the trailers and TV spots will be devoid of spoilers. In addition, the studio did not unveil the official Episode VIII cast until production began in February 2016. Chances are, they'll stick to that routine for Colin Trevorrow's Episode IX. Force Awakens was incredibly successful, shattering just about every box office record in the book. As the old saying goes, if it isn't broken, don't fix it.
Now, this isn't to say that Luke Skywalker will not be killed off in Star Wars 8. Having another emotional sendoff to an original trilogy character after Han Solo in Episode VII may run the risk of the filmmakers repeating themselves, but if it's handled properly, it could resonate very strongly with viewers. Only time will tell, but if the day comes when Mark Hamill is "out of work" playing Luke, it'll be Johnson telling us in December 2017, not Hamill in June 2016.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
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