At the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens we’re left with Rey (Daisy Ridley) reaching out to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) with his father’s old lightsaber in her hand, waiting for some kind of recognition, reaction, anything. But that scene required some convincing to actually happen. While speaking at a special event at the Tribeca Film Festival, director J.J. Abrams revealed that Mark Hamill was initially resistant to return for The Force Awakens.
IGN tracked down some more interesting details from a conversation that J.J. Abrams had with Chris Rock at The Film Festival, and here’s what the director had to say about Mark Hamill’s reluctance to be a part of The Force Awakens:
“We knew that getting to Luke was the whole story, and I was desperate to do the next chunk that we knew would not fit into this one movie. But, we knew that we had that ending, but it was a frightening and tricky thing to do, but at first and in all honesty, Mark Hamill was a little resistant.”
“Imagine reading Star Wars, imagine being Mark Hamill and you get the script for the new Star Wars. ‘Oh the opening is good, page two, oh, three and so on – what the f**k is the going on, I’m three pages before the end, the last page, what?’ He was so kind to do it, and at first he was like, ‘Will it seem silly, will it be a joke that he is standing there?’ I said to him, ‘I don’t think it will.’ I said because the whole movie is about that, it could be a great fun drum roll, up to seeing this guy.”
The journey to find the last remaining Jedi (Luke Skywalker) ended up being one of the most interesting aspects of The Force Awakens, if only because it makes everyone wonder what he was doing this whole time. We know that he may have attempted to train some new Jedi, but he was betrayed by Ben Solo, who turned to the dark side and killed all of Luke’s students. After that he went into hiding, but what has he been doing this entire time? Who is Luke Skywalker? Since that question is what convinced Abrams to direct the movie in the first place, it’s no surprise that it’s the most intriguingly unanswered question so far, with the exception of who Rey’s parents might be.
Even though Mark Hamill was worried about whether or not his last minute appearance would actually work, the reality is the other route of having him be more prominent didn’t work at all. Back in December, one week after The Force Awakens hit theaters, co-writer Lawrence Kasdan discussed early versions of the story that were written with Michael Arndt that had Luke Skywalker showing up very early in the story. Kasdan explained:
“Early on I tried to write versions of the story where [Rey] is at home, her home is destroyed, and then she goes on the road and meets Luke. And then she goes and kicks the bad guy’s ass. It just never worked and I struggled with this. This was back in 2012. It just felt like every time Luke came in and entered the movie, he just took it over. Suddenly you didn’t care about your main character anymore because, ‘Oh f–k, Luke Skywalker’s here. I want to see what he’s going to do.’”
Leaving Luke Skywalker out of the equation actually allowed fans to latch onto the new characters a little easier. And as was also established in this same chat with J.J. Abrams, the lack of original trilogy characters appearing early on was offset by the many similarities that The Force Awakens shares with A New Hope. While we probably could have done without another Death Star to allow a bit more of a creative ending, revealing Luke Skywalker at the last minute somewhat makes up for that shortcoming.
Abrams also talked about the negative feedback the film has received from some who believe Star Wars: The Force Awakens was an exact copy of the original Star Wars film. He felt that this was the only way that he could succeed in putting life back into the franchise.
“The weird thing about that movie is that it had been so long since the last one. Obviously the prequels had existed in between and we wanted to, sort of, reclaim the story. So we very consciously – and I know it is derided for this – we very consciously tried to borrow familiar beats so the rest of the movie could hang on something that we knew was Star Wars.” Abrams Said.
“So all the characters – the Stormtrooper who turns, Finn played by John Boyega, and Rey, the character that Daisy plays, the Scavenger, Kylo Ren, the son of Han and Leia, and Poe the pilot – all these were characters and sort of their roles in the story needed to exist in something that predates them.”
Abrams also revealed that the injury sustained by Harrison Ford on set – when he broke his leg after a piece of the Millennium Falcon set fell on him – was a blessing in disguise, because it allowed him to work on the chemistry between Boyega and Ridley, which he felt had been flat.
“When I was on the set of the Millennium Falcon and we started to do work with Rey and Finn, the first time we did it, it didn’t work at all,” explains Abrams. “It was much more contentious. I didn’t direct it right. It was set up all wrong, and when Harrison Ford got injured – which was a very scary day – we ended up having a few weeks off, and it was during that time that I really got to look at what we had done and rewrite quite a bit of that relationship. So when we came back to work again, we actually just reshot from the ground up, those scenes. It was an amazingly helpful thing to get these two characters to where they needed to be.”
Are you excited to see Luke again in Episode VIII? Do you think his presence in The Force Awakens was too small or unimpressive? Talk to us in the comments.
Additional Source: /Film