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We are a little over a month away from Star Wars: The Last Jedi and we're finally getting to see Luke Skywalker back in action for the first time since Return of the Jedi. What we were denied with his brief, silent performance in The Force Awakens we will hopefully get in the upcoming film. Although Luke has been prevalent in the marketing for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, he is the character that has the most mystery surrounding him. The Jedi master has been gone a long time and the fans aren't the only people interested to know what happened to Luke prior to The Last Jedi. In fact, Mark Hamill also wanted to know where his character had been and what he had experienced to aid in his performance. But, as Mark Hamill explains, creating a backstory for your character can create its own set of problems. He said:
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. 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 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.
Actors often craft backstories for their characters to inform their performances in a film, and while this isn't new, it seems to indicate that Mark Hamill clearly put a lot into this performance. As he told Disney Rewards Insider, he had to know what happened to Luke between The Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. But creating his own backstory was tricky for a film and a franchise with such a deep mythology and mystery to it, where every single nugget of information is dissected and analyzed for its canonical impact. We know that Mark Hamill hasn't always agreed with the direction of his character in this film so he couldn't just make assumptions or fill in what he would have liked for Luke's backstory. If he decided Luke pulled an Anakin and slaughtered younglings or took up bounty hunting or just sat in a cave the whole time, all of this could impact his portrayal of the character and the film. The backstory has to fit the goal of the performance and it needs to make sense in canon.
Therefore, Mark Hamill talked to director Rian Johnson about his ideas for Luke. By drawing insights from the script and then filling in the blanks with a stamp of approval from the film's director, he could enhance his performance without causing any problems. This ensures that his portrayal of Luke Skywalker will be consistent with the story they are trying to tell, in this film and any future ones, but will also contain layers of nuance thanks to a carefully crafted backstory.
Luke Skywalker is the titular last Jedi, according to Rian Johnson, and the film will focus on his character and why he went into exile. We know that Luke has lived a full life, full of triumphs and mistakes and he is no longer the naïve youth he once was. He now has soul and experience and Mark Hamill tried to tap into that with his backstory. We do not know what battles Luke Skywalker has fought or whether he has had dalliances with the Dark Side, but we do know that Mark Hamill seems to be having a blast returning to the franchise, despite his initial reluctance.