The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson has shared his arguments with Mark Hamill over the character of Luke Skywalker, saying that the actor doesn’t own the character. It won’t shock anyone to learn that The Last Jedi stands as one of most controversial Star Wars movies. The science fiction movie divided critics and audiences alike, and one of the most contentious aspects of the movie was the direction it took Luke Skywalker’s story in.
The space adventure movie surprised audiences with the plot that Luke had disconnected himself from the force, after failing to rebuild the Jedi order and allowing Kylo Ren to turn to the dark side. It is well known that Hamill himself was unconvinced by the direction of the plot, and after 40 years of portraying the famous Star Wars character he initially believed that the direction Johnson wanted to take was the wrong one.
Now the Star Wars movie’s director has reflected on the experience once again, especially focussing on that conflict with Hamill and the way in which the film treated the story of Luke Skywalker.
Speaking to Empire Magazine (via Screen Rant) Johnson said “I’m choosing my words carefully, not to be diplomatic, but I don’t want to frame Mark’s experience of [The Last Jedi] through my lens because there’s no possible way I can ever put myself in the shoes of Mark.”
He continued “If Mark Hamill is talking to me about Luke Skywalker, I’m gonna listen to him, and I gotta think about that and argue with him and go back and forth. And genuinely plumb the depths of my soul and what I wrote and figure out if this seems right. Also, though, remembering that, obviously, he created the character on screen, but he’s Mark Hamill, he’s not literally Luke Skywalker. Luke Skywalker lives as a creation on that screen. He’s a myth.”
Johnson’s explanation of the conflict between himself and Hamill gets to the heart of the interesting concept of ownership. Does Mark Hamill, who has portrayed Luke Skywalker for the majority of his life, have ownership or Luke? Do fans of Star Wars have ownership of the character? Or, actually, is it George Lucas?
Johnson’s view is that Luke Skywalker, and his story, is a myth that isn’t owned by any individual, not even Hamill. Because, in the director’s own words, Mark Hamill is not Luke Skywalker.
Whatever your opinion is on Johnson’s comments, it’s hard to argue with the notion that the director took Star Wars, and made it more stimulating than it had been in years. Partly, that was due to how it treated Luke and while The Last Jedi has plenty of flaws, the direction of Luke Skywalker’s story isn’t one of them.
If you’re desperate for a break from Star Wars, why not swap genres and check out our guide to the best fantasy movies of all time.