Home Entertainment [SPOILERS] Rian Johnson Talks Luke Skywalker's Place in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

[SPOILERS] Rian Johnson Talks Luke Skywalker's Place in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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One of the big things that was going to come out of Star Wars: The Last Jedi is what happened to the famous Luke Skywalker. He didn’t even have a line in The Force Awakens so no one was really sure what was going to happen in The Last Jedi. It has proven to be a point of contention among fans and Business Insider spoke to writer/director Rian Johnson about Skywalker and how actor Mark Hamill reacted. However, Luke and how he is handled in the movie is a huge spoiler so consider this your spoiler warning.
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The Luke we meet in the movie is not the wide eyed young farm boy from A New Hope or even the Jedi master from Return of the Jedi. This is a sad and broken old man that has crumbled under the weight of his own failures. It’s a fascinating direction to take the character and one that Johnson found challenging to write.

Yeah. It’s something that, early in the process, the first thing I had to crack in the movie is why Luke is on that island. 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.” But what you do know is his friends are out fighting the good fight, and he’s taken himself out of the equation. So 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.

millennium falcon mark hamill

By the end of the movie we see Luke die, at peace, after humiliating Kylo Ren and giving the Resistance time to escape. While it’s an ending that a lot of fans have a problem with it is one that became clear to Johnson as he was writing the movie.

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. 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.

This was the ending the character seemed to want and he got it. Luke says he went to the island to die and he did exactly that but not after saving lives and, once again, becoming a legend even in death. This was Luke’s “coda” but Johnson admits that he isn’t writing the next one so he doesn’t know if things are going to change in Episode IX.

Yes, exactly. But I also have to say I’m not writing the next one, and I’m not sure what J.J. [Abrams] and [screenwriter] Chris Terrio are going to do in the next one with Luke. 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. I was holding my breath when I did it and I realized all these things, though I also thought, “S—.”

Hamill has gone on record to say that he wasn’t happy with the direction that Johnson decided to take Luke, though he later clarified his statements when they came out as him hating the movie, when Johnson describes his reaction as something Hamill didn’t want to hear.

It wasn’t the thing he wanted to necessarily hear. [Laughs.] 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.

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Hamill, like the rest of us, has spent the last several decades coming up with how Luke’s story would evolve after Return of the Jedi and this wasn’t what he had in mind. That is the core of a lot of people’s problems with this movie. However, as Johnson points out, having Luke just be a good guy who shows up to save the day isn’t necessarily an interesting movie to watch because there is no character conflict.

If he comes in as just an optimistic fighter for the good guys, that gives Rey nothing to bounce up against — that’s just an older version of Rey. So 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. 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.

Part of being a director and a writer is sometimes listening to what your actors have to say. In this case it was talking to the man who made us all fall in love with Luke Skywalker in the first place and making it a collaborative effort.

Summary: Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson, stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, and Adam Driver. It’s out now.

(Last Updated December 20, 2017 12:47 am )

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