Mark Hamill reveals he disagreed with Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson's vision for Luke Skywalker. It's been something of an open secret that Mark Hamill isn't entirely comfortable with The Last Jedi. Although he's had nothing but praise for writer-director Rian Johnson, Hamill has gone to great pains to explain that he had a very different vision of Luke Skywalker. To Hamill, Luke is the eternal optimist, and the Jedi Master's call for the Jedi to end struck an off note.
That said, as the months have passed, there's been a change in Hamill's tone. It's as though he's come to step back from the character, to assess the role in a dramatic sense, and to understand why Johnson wanted to take Luke in this direction.
Needless to say, when Screen Rant got an exclusive chance to speak to Hamill at The Last Jedi press junket, we decided to raise the issue. When asked if his vision and the vision of Johnson lined up, Hamill simply answered, "No." When asked to elaborate, Hamill gave a deep and insightful response, one that drops intriguing teases at his character's arc in the film:
"Well, I think when I read it, it's like the movie is just mind-bogglingly complex. It's challenging. It's hilarious in parts. It's suspenseful. It's dark and somber. I'm holding the fort down on the dark and somber. But, you know, I mean, the most shocking thing I read was it's time for the Jedi to end. Are you... What? And I mean, I understood Luke's regret at being wrong about who the chosen one was and he feels responsible for creating potentially the next Darth Vader and hey, I mean, ruining your nephew's life. Like not perceiving that he was going to the Dark Side until too late, so that weighs heavily on him. But all the characters face challenges in the second act of a three-act play or opera. I mean this is where all the darkest things happened. I mean, there's triumphs of course but more than its share of tragedies."
It's the second time Hamill has cast back to the prophecy of the Chosen One, and it's clearly at the heart of Luke's character arc in The Last Jedi. The concept of the Chosen One was absent from the Original Trilogy, but was introduced by George Lucas in the prequels. The Jedi believed the Chosen One's role was to bring balance to the Force, and seemed to think that would be achieved by destroying the Sith. By the end of Revenge of the Sith, Yoda was suggesting that the prophecy could have been "misread."
It seems that, sometime between the events of Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Luke stumbled upon the Chosen One prophecy. When he sensed young Ben Solo's power in the Force, he assumed Ben to be the Chosen One, and trained him to use the Force. Unfortunately, Luke failed to sense the Dark Side's pull upon his nephew. As a result, he now blames himself both for "creating potentially the next Darth Vader" and "ruining [his] nephew's life."
This, Hamill hinted, is what broke Luke Skywalker. The Jedi Master was devastated when Ben became Kylo Ren, seeing himself as repeating Obi-Wan's mistake with Anakin. When Rey arrives on Ahch-To, she finds a reluctant teacher who senses her power in the Force, and this time fears it.
It's a much darker character arc than Hamill would have chosen for Luke himself. Still, as he noted, this is the second act in a three-act drama. Clearly remembering back to his experience with The Empire Strikes Back, Hamill pointed out that "this is where all the darkest things happen." While the narrative of The Last Jedi promises to be very different to Empire, its role in the sequel trilogy seems to be similar. This is a film where the victories will be bittersweet, a movie that will have "more than its share of tragedies."
Given how little we know of Star Wars: The Last Jedi to date, Hamill has been remarkably open in discussing Luke's backstory. It's clear that the story of Luke Skywalker has taken a tragic turn, and now it will fall to Luke to bring the "dark and somber" to the next Star Wars movie. That said, Luke certainly has good reason for his despair. We'll have to wait and see whether Rey can restore that legendary hope and optimism once again.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019