It is one of the most indelible images in all of Star Wars. After an entire movie of searching, Daisy Ridley’s Rey finally finds him: The missing Jedi, Luke Skywalker. At the top of a mountain in Ireland (or outer space or whatever), Rey confronts Luke, played by Mark Hamill. She presents him with his old lightsaber. He stares her down. And then ... the movie ends.

It was a perfect cliffhanger and a terrific bookend. (The Force Awakens’ opening crawl began with the words “Luke Skywalker has vanished.”) But if it was up to Mark Hamill himself, the whole thing would have played out very differently. As part of Vanity Fair’s new cover story on The Last Jedi, Hamill revealed how he wanted to bring back Luke for his long-awaited return to the galaxy far, far away. He’s clearly spent a lot of time thinking about it too:

Now, remember, one of the plots in the earlier films was the telepathic communication between my sister and me ... So I thought, Carrie will sense that Han is in danger and try to contact me. And she won’t succeed, and, in frustration, she’ll go herself. Then we’re in the situation where all three of us are together, which is one of my favorite things in the original film, when we were on the Death Star. It’s just got a fun dynamic to it. So I thought it would have been more effective, and I still feel this way, though it’s just my opinion, that Leia would make it as far as she can, and, right when she is apprehended, maybe even facing death—Ba-boom! I come in and blow the guy away and the two of us go to where Han is facing off with his son, but we’re too late. The reason that’s important is that we witness his death, which carries enormous personal resonance into the next picture. As it is, Chewie’s there, and how much can you get out of [passable Chewbacca wail] ‘Nyaaarghhh!’ and two people who have known Han for, what, 20 minutes?”

As fan canon (or star canon) goes, it’s not bad. The Force Awakens was all about symmetry, and there would have been a lovely symmetry to getting the old band back together one last time. And you can’t blame Hamill for wanting to get to do some big heroic stuff; the VF profile reveals he’d been “dieting and training for 50 weeks” when he finally got to read the Force Awakens script and discovered ... he had one scene, said nothing, and did nothing. Dude. Can you imagine all the barbecue he missed eating for that year? That poor, poor man.

In the end, I think The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams made the right call. He kept you guessing as to when and where Luke would show up right until the very last scene. That reveal was amazing; as a climax it was just incredible. But it’s fun to know what Mark Hamill would have done with creative control written into his contract.

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