When you’ve been emotionally connected to a character or set of characters for the best part of four decades, it is understandable that you have certain ideas of how you imagine future events playing out for them. It should come as no surprise then that Star Wars’ Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill, had a whole different scenario envisioned for the demise of fan-favourite Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in The Force Awakens. And since it was no secret that Ford had wanted Han to die in 1983’s Return of the Jedi, Hamill has had plenty of time to ponder this death scene.
As you’ll recall, in echoes of A New Hope’s death of Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) at the hands of his former student Darth Vader, the son of Han and General Leia (Carrie Fisher), the now-turned Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) strikes down his father, in front of Chewie, Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega). While you could have heard a pin drop in cinemas across the world as the scene played out, it was that emotional, Hamill also wanted to toy with our emotions.
In a special issue of Vanity Fair marking both the 40th anniversary of A New Hope and the upcoming The Last Jedi, Hamill describes how he would have staged the death. “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.” Well we certainly agree with that. What was definitely missing from The Force Awakens was having Hamill, Fisher and Ford all together again.
Hamill continued, “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?” And you’ve just broken us all over again Hamill.
While Hamill does admit that he has “never been more happy to be wrong” about the scene, there still is some part of me that would love to have seen Hamill’s scenario played out.
Instead of any scenes with the original trio, Luke was missing for the majority of the first film, only appearing in the dying minutes when Rey finds him atop what we now know is Ahch-To, the home planet of the original Jedi temple. Though he featured heavily in the film’s plot in trying to locate him, Luke comes into his own in The Last Jedi, in particular the reason why he disappeared off the face of the galaxy.
Han has provided some back story in The Force Awakens – “one boy, an apprentice, turned against him (Ben Solo/Kylo Ren), destroyed it all” – and that those close to him have speculated that following his failure with Ben he “went looking for the first Jedi Temple.” The Last Jedi director Rian Jonson confirms that this is exactly where Luke has been hiding out, alongside a new race of creatures (but just what kind, he was tightlipped).
Having now been found, it appears that he throws himself into training Rey in the ways of the Force. At least that’s what we can glean from the trailer.
Alongside Hamill, Fisher, Ridley, Boyega and Driver, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Peter Mayhew, Andy Serkis, Anthony Daniels, and Lupita Nyong’o are all returning. Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern join the cast as DJ and Vice Amilyn Holdo, respectively.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is due in cinemas on December 15, 2017.
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