When Star Wars: The Last Jedi dropped last year, one of the more shocking character arcs was Luke. Most people, it seems, were expecting a virtual carbon copy of Old Obi-Wan. What we got instead, was something radically different.
At SXSW, Mark Hamill addressed this, with writer/director Rian Johnson on stage with him. They had shown a documentary The Director and the Jedi, which will be available with the home media version of the film, and were fielding questions afterward.
A fan had asked about his public “distaste” about the choices for the character. ComicBook.com laid out his response:
“It’s not distaste at all,” said Hamill. “It just wasn’t a Luke I understood.” He had to come up with his own reasons for why Luke “picked the new Hitler to be the next hope” as well as “how I justified cutting off my telepathic communication with my sister.”
He would later say that this role was like “going home again, but it was a house I didn’t recognize at all.”
“When you get down to it, it’s not Mark Hamill in a blockbuster film. It’s Luke,” Hamill said. “I had to do a wild reimagining of the character. Like, hey, what happened between the last one and this one, where the most hopeful man in the galaxy becomes a cranky old suicidal man telling people to get off his lawn?”
Johnson chimed in, saying it was definitely a collaborative effort, and differing opinions make for a stronger product:
“In the context of how this has all been framed, you have to snap your head back and remember that with every single movie, with characters, it’s always a dialogue between the director and actors. That’s a healthy thing. You always butt heads with actors.”
Hamill went on to say that this wasn’t the first time this had happened. He thought Luke was going to turn evil in Return of the Jedi, and actually argued with George Lucas about it.
“I read [the script for Return of the] Jedi,” Hamill said, “and thought, ‘Wait a sec! I thought I was heading toward the struggle of heading to the Dark Side. I’m in black. I have a glove. I see a trend here.'”
Hamill understands fans’ love for these characters, and regrets how his comments got misconstrued. As Darth Vader tells Luke “It is unwise to lower your defense!”
“I’m like a lot of you. I feel an investment in it, a certain sense of ownership, which is a joke, because I don’t own it, now Disney does. But you care! That’s what happens with these films. I’m sorry I lowered my guard and expressed my misgivings about it. That belongs in the [filmmaking] process. That doesn’t belong to the public. I feel bad because I made that statement before I saw the finished film.”
Hamill is of course entitled to his opinion about a character he has embodied for over 40 years now. But he seems to truly have been misunderstood. There is no ill will towards Johnson, who seemed to have a playful banter with on stage. To have that much of a shocking departure from what the character we knew, would be off putting to anyone. How many people who have faced trauma in their lives are the same person you knew 30 years ago? Not many. I thought the choices made for Luke were great, especially his confrontation at the end. He gave his life, like Obi-Wan, for the good of the Resistance, and while toying with his bratty nephew by not even physically being there. The shoulder brush off was the literal representation of what Kylo hated most. Even with his old Master light years away, he can still put Kylo in his place like he was nothing. Plus, these comments should put Hamill’s misgivings to bed. Go ahead Luke, brush off the naysayers!
ALSO READ: “Rian Johnson Loves All of the STAR WARS Debates That Have Sprung Up Since THE LAST JEDI”
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is out digitally at all major retailers now.