Luke Skywalker's role in [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](tag:711158) was the source of much discussion before the movie was released. Which is unsurprising, given that he's the budding Jedi protagonist of the original trilogy. The first image released from the production of Star Wars 7 was a photo of the table read, as the cast gathered to read the script together. This picture quickly became iconic, with Mark Hamill sitting at the side next to Andy Serkis.
Naturally, fans assumed from this that Luke Skywalker would play a large role in Episode 7. Of course, this wasn't the case. So why did Abrams decide to include Hamill in the table read?
The Force Awakens Blu-ray has finally been released, and in one of the bonus features there's a short documentary on the table read itself. To accompany this, Abrams spoke to Entertainment Weekly about Hamill's involvement in the read through.
"It was partly trickery. We knew, obviously, that he didn’t speak in the film. And because we knew we were going to take pictures, and people knew he was in the movie, we needed to have him there."
Essentially, Abrams invited Hamill so that fans wouldn't suspect that Luke Skywalker had such a small role in Star Wars Episode 7. Crafty.
Abrams noted that it "wouldn't have been right" to exclude Hamill from the table read on the basis of how small a part Luke plays in the film. As one of the veteran Star Wars actors, Hamill's name has become synonymous with the franchise itself. Which is why the role Abrams chose for him in the table read couldn't have been more perfect: reading the script itself.
"It is a pretty herculean task, to ask an actor to read a hundred and twenty some pages aloud over the course of two plus hours... I almost felt guilty."
Known for his voice acting work as well as his role in Star Wars, Hamill immediately agreed to do the narration.
Having seen the featurette itself, I can attest to Abrams's praise of Hamill's narration. You really do get chills when the iconic actor introduces the new film.
"It was a way of having [him] be part of every scene, every moment, not just spiritually or thematically or narratively, but actually. Having his voice in it made the read through a better experience for everyone."
Usually, directors read the narration of scripts during table reads, but in this case Abrams took a step back, telling Hamill he would rather observe. As a self-confessed superfan of Star Wars, Abrams clearly enjoyed the table read as more than just the director of The Force Awakens.
Whether it was for deception, to honor Hamill's role in the franchise, or just so Abrams could enjoy the experience, we can't think of a better way to begin the next chapter in the Star Wars saga.
[Source: Entertainment Weekly]