The initial teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, released in April, ended with a shocking quote from Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill): "I only know one truth: It's time for the Jedi to end."
For months, fans have been trying to decipher what that line of dialogue will mean for the character, first introduced in 1977. "I'm sure this line is a great shock to the audience, so you can imagine how I felt! This is a huge change for a character who once represented optimism and hope. It's a radical decision to drop out of everything he's ever believed in," Hamill said in the Winter 2017 edition of Disney Rewards Insider. "The entire movie is filled with these kinds of jaw-dropping surprises, but you'll just have to see the film itself to discover what they are."
Will Luke go the way of his father, Darth Vader? "In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Luke has lost confidence in his ability to make good choices. It haunts him to the core. But he hasn't gone to the dark side. This isn't an evil version of him. But it's still an incarnation of the character I never expected," the actor said. "It has pulled me out of my comfort zone. It's a real challenge."
"I don't think Luke's fundamental personality has changed," the 66-year-old said, "except that he is older and his life experiences have shaped his outlook the same way they do for all of us."
Prior to the events of The Force Awakens, Luke exiled himself on the remote island of Ahch-To, abandoning his sister, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and his comrades, including R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), C-3PO (Athony Daniels), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). It wasn't until the end of the movie that Rey (Daisy Ridley) finally located the isolated Jedi knight.
"The biggest challenge for me was actually in the time between [1983's] Return of the Jedi and [2015's] Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I had to know what had happened to Luke during those years. I had to glean decades of backstory from the script. And some of it I had to make up for myself," Hamill admitted to Disney Rewards Insider. "I had to know what he went through during that time. It's not important to the storyline for this film, but I did discuss some of my thoughts with [The Last Jedi's writer and director] Rian Johnson to make sure I wasn't coming up with anything in my personal backstory that would affect Luke's portrayal in this film."
Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi is in theaters Dec. 15.