Mark Hamill Discusses Leia’s Impact On The Last Jedi And Luke’s Exile

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As Star Wars: The Force Awakens drew to a close, fans were treated to a glimpse of an aged Luke Skywalker – whose shadow loomed over the entire film, specifically due to his absence. In that triumphant return to form for the legendary franchise, the iconic character played by Mark Hamill literally became the ‘MacGuffin.’ But, the newly introduced Rey tracked him down and handed the now hirsute hermit his lightsaber – setting the stage for the next thrilling chapter, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

That film arrives in just a few months, and it’ll be a celebration tinged with sadness for cast, crew and fans alike, as the sequel will mark the final appearance of General Leia Organa – one of the original franchise stars – after the sudden death of actress Carrie Fisher in 2016. In conversation with The Vancouver Sun, Mark Hamill recently reflected on the impact this loss has had on all involved, and said the following:

“It is different. She was irreplaceable. There can never be a proper reunion anymore. It’s tragic. I hate that it adds an air of melancholy to the film because it doesn’t deserve it. I know for a fact she would obviously want us to be having fun. She was all about laughter and enjoying the moment. We’re all sort of having this communal period of grief. In a way, it sort of reflects the movies themselves, which were about triumphs and tragedies. They are about a family — a dysfunctional family, but a family nonetheless.”

Mark Hamill Discusses Leia's Impact On The Last Jedi And Luke's Exile

While Star Wars: The Force Awakens kept Luke Skywalker apart from his original co-stars, The Last Jedi is expected to include scenes that reunite Luke with his sister, Leia – a thrilling prospect for eager audiences. But, though Luke is clearly far more present and involved in the story this time around, Hamill suggests that the circumstances of his lengthy exile may not be fully explained just yet – a situation that lends itself to fascinating character progression.

“Luke changed, I think, more than the other characters in the original trilogy, from callow farm boy to a Jedi in training to finally a Jedi master. What you’re talking about is what really fascinated me. Between Return of the Jedi and Force Awakens, there’s just decades of history that’s unknown. So I was wondering how they’re going to handle all this. Now, obviously, with Force Awakens, J.J. (Abrams) had a full plate. It was inevitable that they would push me down the line. I was sorry I wasn’t able to work with any of the original actors again. But it’s not about us anymore. In this new one, I was saying to Rian Johnson: I need to know my backstory. It was kind of unclear. You read where he is now and what he’s doing now and sort of have to fill in the blanks for yourself. So I did do a backstory myself. It’s not about Luke anymore, so it’s not really important. But I had to make sense of it for myself. What Rian [Johnson, the writer and director] came up with, I was stunned.”

Hamill’s assertion that, “it’s not about Luke anymore,” certainly does suggest that his presence in the film is focused on his role in the progression of Rey (Daisy Ridley) – so the question remains: Is Luke the Last Jedi, or is it Rey? The young woman certainly has the potential, but the circumstances of Luke’s return to the fold may well have a significant impact on her future with the Force.

We’ll have to wait until Star Wars: The Last Jedi is released on December 15th to find out.

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