In The Force Awakens, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) tells Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) that his long-time friend Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has really, truly disappeared. “People that knew him best think he went looking for the first Jedi temple,” Han says.
Vanity Fair’s cover story, a “definitive preview” of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, revealed on Wednesday that that part of the Skywalker legend is very real, and Luke’s been kicking it with the caretakers of an ancient Jedi temple for a while when Rey finally finds him at the end of The Force Awakens.
The dramatic, storied final scene of J.J. Abrams’s The Force Awakens was shot on Skellig Michael, an island off the coast of Ireland. Rather than return to that harrowing location — a UNESCO World Heritage Site only accessible during the summer months that took Hamill an hour and a half to climb — the Last Jedi’s crew relocated the bulk of the shooting to a simpler spot: the Dingle Peninsula on the southwest coast of Ireland.
Director Rian Johnson said that upon finding their new Ahch-To, the craggy, waterlogged, in-universe planet where Luke found that aforementioned ancient Jedi temple, the Last Jedi crew got to work. They “duplicated the beehive-shaped huts where the monks lived on Skellig and made a kind of little Jedi village out of them,” he said.
So, Luke has been hanging out with the indigenous caretakers of the first Jedi temple. It’s a race of creatures created for The Last Jedi, and whom Johnson refused to describe outside of calling them “not Ewoks.” Not only is Luke a changed man who’s suffered through the loss of his own Jedi academy at the hands of his nephew, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), he’s also been studying the lives of an alien race with deep ties to the original Jedi. They’ve clearly had an effect on him if “it’s time for the Jedi to end.”
These mysterious caretakers harken back a bit to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the Guardians of the Whills. Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) and Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) were two such Guardians in Rogue One and were once protectors of the ancient Temple of the Kyber before the onset of the Empire on Jedha. As the Force, the Jedi, and Kyber crystals are all linked in the Star Wars universe and act as a religious entity of sorts, perhaps these unidentified caretakers are also guardians and warrior monks. If so, it would seem Luke should get along with them.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi premieres in theaters on December 15.