Why Mark Hamill’s ‘The Last Jedi’ Role Definitely Isn’t His Favorite Version Of Luke Skywalker
The actor has never been shy about making his voice heard, but Mark Hamill criticizing his The Last Jedi character may be his strongest statement yet. The Star Wars veteran has been playing the role of Luke Skywalker since the first movie in the original trilogy premiered in 1977. So he's had 40 years with the character — enough time to form some very strong opinions about who the Jedi knight is and how he ought to be played. Or, more accurately, how he ought not to be played.
Specifically, Hamill disagrees with Rian Johnson's reimagining of the classic character as a moody hermit who's completely rejected his old way of life, according to Us Weekly. At the end of The Force Awakens, many fans assumed that The Last Jedi would pick up right where the previous film left off. Luke would return to the fight, he would take up the mantle of teacher and protector to pass along his knowledge of the Force to Rey, and balance would be restored. But that's not what happened. Spoilers ahead for The Last Jedi.
Instead, Luke discarded his light saber, rejected Rey, and refused to heed his sister's call for help, all because he felt he had failed a former student. And that didn't sit well with Hamill, as he shared in a promotional interview for the film with movie site SensaCine, as HuffPost pointed out. Hamill said,
"I said to Rian, I said, ‘Jedi don’t give up.’ I mean, even if he had a problem, he would maybe take a year to try and regroup, but if he made a mistake, he would try and right that wrong, so right there, we had a fundamental difference."
The mistake he's referring to is his feeling that he let down Kylo Ren — then Ben Solo — while he was still Skywalker's pupil, propelling him deeper into the Dark Side. The 66-year-old actor felt like the Jedi would face his mistakes, not run from them, and he didn't recognize the character that was laid out for him on the page. In another taped interview published to YouTube by user JarJar Abrams, Hamill ranted:
"Who is this guy? How did the most optimistic, hopeful character in the galaxy turn into this hermit who says, ‘It’s time for the Jedi to end'? I read that and I said, ‘What?’ That’s not what a Jedi does. I mean, a Jedi is optimistic, a Jedi has tenacity. He doesn’t secrete himself on an island."
However, as he acknowledged, "It's not my story anymore. It’s somebody else’s story, and Rian needed me to be a certain way to make the ending effective."
This set of movies centers on Rey, not Luke, and if the new generation requires some poetic license with the motivations of the past ones, then so be it. But just because Hamill has come to terms with the fact that this is what best serves the plot, if not the character, doesn't make it any easier for him to swallow. "That’s the crux of my problem," he continued, "Luke would never say that. I’m sorry."
They're bold statements from the actor, but hardly new. In an April interview with ABC, Hamill revealed that he'd taken a frank, unapologetic tone with the director, telling Johnson, "I fundamentally disagree with virtually everything you've decided about my character." But as much as these disagreements about Skywalker's character clearly ate away at Hamill, they obviously weren't a complete deal-breaker, because he did in fact film the movie. He found a way to get around his misgivings, which he explained thusly:
"I almost had to think of Luke as another character. Maybe he’s ‘Jake Skywalker,’ he’s not my Luke Skywalker. But I had to do what Rian wanted me to do because it serves the story well."
Spoken like a true actor and a true Jedi. Hamill wanted to maintain balance within the Force — in this case, a film franchise — even if it was at his own cost.