A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, an actor did his job and read his lines — even though he wasn't too happy about the direction his character, or the movie, were taking. As part of an avalanche of thrilling first look pictures and tantalizing new teasers released by Vanity Fair magazine about Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Mark Hamill has been speaking candidly about The Force Awakens, specifically J.J. Abrams' decision not to introduce Luke Skywalker until the movie's final moments.
The juice? For a long time, Hamill was less than thrilled about playing the role of a reclusive mythical figure whose influence on the plot was all orchestrated off-screen. Here's what he had to say to Vanity Fair about how the film should have played out, if he'd had any say in the matter:
"I thought, Carrie will sense that Han is in danger and try to contact me. And she won’t succeed, and, in frustration, she’ll go herself. Then we’re in the situation where all three of us are together, which is one of my favorite things in the original film, when we were on the Death Star. It’s just got a fun dynamic to it.
So I thought it would have been more effective, and I still feel this way, though it’s just my opinion, that Leia would make it as far as she can, and, right when she is apprehended, maybe even facing death—Ba-boom! I come in and blow the guy away and the two of us go to where Han is facing off with his son, but we’re too late.
The reason that’s important is that we witness his death, which carries enormous personal resonance into the next picture. As it is, Chewie’s there, and how much can you get out of [passable Chewbacca wail] ‘Nyaaarghhh!’ and two people who have known Han for, what, 20 minutes?"
It's pretty unusual and surreally refreshing to hear an actor talking so honestly about what they would have done differently, but then Hamill's prerogative to be outspoken has become a major part of why he's so beloved among Star Wars fans.
He does point out that he later congratulated Abrams on the "narrative masterstroke" of saving Luke's introduction for the very end of play, but clearly he's still of the belief that not having Luke and Leia present to witness Han's death was a mistake — and really, who can argue with that? The most emotional moment of The Force Awakens was Han's reunion with Leia. It's sad that a reunion between all three original heroes will never now play out.
Vanity Fair also tease a potentially very interesting detail of Luke's self-imposed exile on the island where Rey found him, gleamed from director Rian Johnson:
"Though their time on Skellig Michael was brief, the 'Last Jedi' crew returned to the area for additional shooting on the Dingle Peninsula, a ragged spear of land that juts out into the North Atlantic. There, Johnson said, the set builders "duplicated the beehive-shaped huts where the monks lived on Skellig and made a kind of little Jedi village out of them."
Luke, it transpires, has been living in this village among an indigenous race of caretaker creatures whom Johnson is loath to describe in any more detail, except to say that they are not Ewoks."
Hamill might have preferred Abrams to take a more conventional route with Luke's return, but clearly the mythology now being revealed about what kept the former Jedi teacher in isolation is not only massively interesting, but also something completely new for Star Wars. This direction is also totally fitting with the suggestion from the Last Jedi teaser trailer that Luke's feelings about the continued existence of the Jedi could make him more of an anti-hero than an idol figure for the Resistance.
Now is the perfect time for this series to begin taking more risks. We'll find out if it's done that when #TheLastJedi hits theaters December 15. You can read Hamill's Vanity Fair interview in full right here.
Is Hamill right? Would you have preferred Luke and Leia to be present for Han's death? And who are the "caretaker creatures" watching over Luke?