Mark Hamill says that filming Star Wars: The Last Jedi reminded him of his experience making Episode IV – A New Hope. The highly-anticipated next installment in the epic franchise, which is set to hit theaters December 15, continues the saga following new heroine Rey (Daisy Ridley). The Last Jedi will pick up with Rey as she learns the ways of the Force from Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (Hamill) on the remote planet Ahch-To, in order to do battle with Dark Side users Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).
At the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, fans were left with a somewhat-literal cliffhanger – as Rey arrived on the gorgeous and mysterious island and held out Luke’s lightsaber to the aged Jedi in an epic staring contest. The island, which is a real place you can visit, is located off the southwest coast of Ireland and is known as Skellig Michael. Also called Great Skellig, the island is home to the remains of a Gaelic Christian monastery, which is seen in the final scene of The Force Awakens when Rey searches the island for Luke. it is also home to a colony of puffins that inspired the adorable porgs in the upcoming installment.
In an interview with Joe, Hamill talked about what it was like filming scenes for The Last Jedi on Skellig Michael. According to Hamill, it brought back the feeling of wonderment that he experienced while filming the Tatooine scenes for A New Hope with Sir Alec Guinness on the salt flats. He also explained the two experiences were different in comparison to filming The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi:
“I remember, I had this feeling that rushed over me when I was at the top of Skellig Michael, because the first thing we did on the original Star Wars, before Carrie came over or Harrison came over. I went with Sir Alec and Anthony and Kenny Baker – the two droids – and we went and we did the desert scenes in Tunisia. We were out on the salt flats, which was 360 degrees of horizon, because it was built over- nothing grows there, because there was salt water underneath. And in between shots if I turned away and had the crew to my back, you could look out and in this unearthly terrain and the robots by your side and the floating car and the stand, and you’re in this outfit…
“It was very easy to just be transported and really feel like you were in a galaxy far, far away. It was just – y’know, I got the chills. And I never had that feeling again, until – not in Empire, when we went to Norway, it was brutally cold, but snow is snow, I’ve seen it before. In Jedi, we went to the Redwood forest, and again, gorgeous, but again, it was something that I was familiar with. Skellig, you’re up at the top, and I didn’t expect this to happen but I was sort of off to myself, and it was just at sunset, and there was the craggy rocks coming up, and I had that same feeling: ‘Oh my gosh, this is like being in another world.’ And as much as I joked and complained about having to climb that endless…Y’know, also, it was built in the 1100’s, and you go ‘How did they get these stones out the island in the first place?’, y’know? These monks must have built canoes or who knows, but it is a really extraordinary place.”
We agree with Hamill that Skellig Michael is a magical place that fits perfectly in the Star Wars universe and we can’t wait to see more of the island and watch it come alive when The Last Jedi arrives in theaters. It’s also exciting to learn that the monastery ruins, which are being used as the ruins of the first Jedi Temple we see Rey wander through in The Force Awakens, is an actual location that can be visited by Star Wars fans. That’s something that, unfortunately, can’t be done for other out-of-this-world locations in the galaxy far, far away, like the massive cities of Corellia or the ocean world of Kamino.
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