Rian Johnson describes how Mark Hamill reacted to the Luke Skywalker storyline in 'The Last Jedi' -- 'It wasn't the thing he wanted to necessarily hear'

LucasfilmMark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi.’
  • “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson said the first big challenge of writing the movie was figuring out what Luke Skywalker was doing on that island.
  • That led to him realising that Skywalker’s fate would have to be explored in the movie as well.

Warning: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

There’s a lot to digest after watching the latest “Star Wars” movie, “The Last Jedi,” but perhaps the biggest is Luke Skywalker’s return to the franchise.

Following “The Force Awakens,” where the Jedi master shows up in the last shot of the movie and doesn’t utter a single word, “The Last Jedi” picks up right at that moment. For a lot of the story, we stay with Luke (Mark Hamill) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) on his secluded island.

Luke Last Jedi FalconLucasfilm

“The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson said that was the first big hurdle of writing the script – why was Luke on that island and why won’t he leave?

“I had to figure out something that made sense, and you don’t know much about where’s Luke’s head is at coming out of ‘The Force Awakens,’ Johnson told Business Insider. “For me growing up, I know Luke as a hero. I know that he must think he’s doing the right thing by taking himself out of the equation, and that means he thinks the best thing for the galaxy is that he’s not a part of this and, by extension, that the Jedi are not a part of this. So that leads you down a certain path.”

The path Johnson took was exploring Skywalker as he’s riddled with guilt for believing he failed as a master Jedi by trying to show Ben Solo (aka, Kylo Ren) the ways of the force, only to realise his nephew is drawn to the dark side. Skywalker is even more frighted when he finally gives in to Rey’s request for training and realises her enormous raw power in the force.

[BIG SPOILER COMING!!!]

Eventually Luke does leave the island – not physically, but through a force projection – and comes to the rescue of the Resistance. In doing so, he goes up against Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) using the force in an extremely clever way. However, the power exerted by Skywalker leads to his death as he fades away with his cloak flying off into the breeze.

“As I worked out that his arc was going to be coming to a place where he does this big heroic act that is going to be spread throughout the galaxy – basically taking back the mantle of Luke Skywalker, a Jedi master, a legend – it just slowly became clear to me that it would be this big grand act,” Johnson said of writing Skywalker’s final scene. “It would be an act of mythmaking. And if there was ever going to be a place in this entire trilogy to give him this emotional moment of a goodbye, this was probably going to be the most emotionally potent place to do it.”

But, how did Hamill take the news?

Rian Johnson Mark Hamill Charley Gallay Getty finalCharley Gallay/Getty(L-R) Rian Johnson and Mark Hamill.

“It wasn’t the thing he wanted to necessarily hear,” Johnson said with a laugh. “Understandably so. Mark had all these years to think what Luke’s triumphant return would be. Luke’s the hero coming back into this story, and the fact that this character and this movie could not be that – this character in this movie was by necessity what he had to be, and also in relation to Rey, that brought its own necessity.”

Johnson said that if Skywalker just came back like he did in the original trilogy, an optimistic fighter, he’s just an older version of Rey. And Johnson needed someone to bounce up against Rey.

“It’s not what Mark had in his head initially, and that’s why he’s spoken very openly about his being caught off guard by the script and where the character ends up,” Johnson said. “But I knew this is where it had to be. We got into the conversations, and we got into the work, and we talked, and we argued, and we discussed, and that process ended up being very good for the character and also for our working relationship. It was a very good one.”

However, anyone who knows the “Star Wars” saga is aware that the Jedi always come back to give guidance to their pupils. What Johnson did in “The Last Jedi” sets up that possibility for “Episode IX,” which will be directed by J.J. Abrams.

“I’m not sure what J.J. and [screenwriter] Chris Terrio are going to do in the next one with Luke,” Johnson said, “but setting up possibilities for the next one, honestly, it seems much like Obi-Wan going where he did after ‘New Hope.’ The possibilities seemed even more exciting in terms of what Luke’s place could be in the next chapter with him entering into this other realm as opposed to him having a lightsaber and being with our heroes. It opened more possibilities as opposed to fewer.”

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is currently playing in theatres.

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