On Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it took some time before Rian Johnson and Mark Hamill were singing from the same hymn sheet.
That’s not to say that the two creators ever clashed on set – far from it. Rather, Hamill was initially taken aback by Rian Johnson’s grand vision for Luke Skywalker, and “fundamentally disagreed” on just about everything that the director had come up with…at first. The Star Wars mainstay later walked back those alarming comments, before admitting that although it took some time for him to acclimate, fans will be pleasantly surprised by the end result.
Fast forward to now, and on the eve of The Last Jedi‘s arrival Rian Johnson himself has addressed his working relationship with Mark Hamill – a relationship he now describes as “really intense” and “wonderful.”
But first, here’s what the filmmaker had to share about Luke Skywalker’s journey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi:
Well, I can’t say too much because discovering that is part of the adventure of the movie and part of the journey in the movie. But, you know, so much of what his character was in this movie and what defined it was a combination of, like I said before, feeling like it was led down a certain path by the big choice he had made to be in exile. And then beyond that, Luke’s story in this movie, to a certain degree, serves Rey’s story. So that was the other element of this. Wherever he was going to be at and whatever he was going to go through, I couldn’t just think of it in a vacuum.
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This trilogy is not just Luke’s story. At the end of the day, it’s Rey who’s carrying us through this whole thing. Obviously, Rey and Finn, those are like the two big characters, but in this section of the story, meaning the island stuff, it’s Rey. So I had to think about him in tandem with Rey. And that was great, also, because that kind of meant thinking about him in tandem with myself, and as fans, our relationship to Luke as a legend and as this hero that we grew up with, who we now haven’t seen for some number of years and we’re approaching with expectations of what he’s going to be.
It’s interesting to hear that the director considers Rey and Finn – Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, respectively – to be the beating heart of Lucasfilm’s current Star Wars trilogy. Luke, on the other hand, is the grizzled recluse who must be brought back to the fray.
On the topic of his working relationship with Mark Hamill, Johnson stated:
I mean, [working with Mark] was phenomenal. It was a really intense working experience, just because during prep and during rehearsals we had a lot of conversations like this. A lot of conversations about the character. And we collaborated and we argued and we did everything you can imagine. Through that, first of all, we formed a really good connection, and second, we both, by necessity, had to really understand where he was and where he was coming from.
In closing, the filmmaker made light of that aforementioned disagreement, noting that he is forever thankful that Hamill allowed him to come in and decide Luke Skywalker’s future.
Mark was so wonderful to work with on set. He was so trusting. Especially with this character meaning what it does to Mark, and his life, the fact that he could step back into that character’s shoes and trust some young schnook [Laughs] with the direction of that character, and put himself into my hands. I still can’t believe he had the graciousness and the trust to do that. But it was a wonderful experience.
Breathe. Just…breathe, as Star Wars: The Last Jedi is almost upon us. December 15th is the date for your diaries, and word is Lucasfilm’s sequel is staring down the face of a $200-plus opening weekend in North America, which would ensure the last Jedi is about to become a very rich Jedi.