Luke Skywalker’s tears are real. When Mark Hamill filmed Star Wars: The Last Jedi, he was so upset during at least one scene that he broke down crying. On Monday, a behind-the-scenes clip surfaced showing director Rian Johnson comforting Hamill as the actor totally loses it, proving once again that Hamill is the biggest Star Wars fan on the planet.
When The Last Jedi hit digital download on March 13, one of the special features was the feature-length documentary The Director and the Jedi. Though it mostly shows Rian Johnson’s process of making the film, it also clearly depicts Hamill grappling with his character’s depressing journey. “My character always represented hope and optimism,” Hamill says in the clip. “And now here I am very pessimistic, disillusioned and sort of demoralized.” This comment echoes Hamill’s previous concerns about Luke’s arc in The Last Jedi, but the visual evidence of him crying is still moving. Hamill really gave this part everything.
Though Hamill has openly supported the film and Rian Johnson, in particular, the dour ending of Luke Skywalker’s heroic story may prove to be the most controversial decision in any Star Wars film. Even Jar Jar Binks and Han Solo shooting second didn’t divide fans the way grumpy old Luke has in The Last Jedi. Everyone’s favorite farmboy didn’t turn to the dark side, but for some Luke’s bad attitude was worse than turning evil.
But the real story here isn’t about what fans think. Instead, it’s all about what Hamill felt and how those feelings fed into his performance as Luke in The Last Jedi. Now, it’s not like Hamill pursued what’s known as “method acting” and actually made people call him “Luke” on the set or drank green alien milk all day long. That said, it’s obvious he did channel his real and conflicted emotions in big, pivotal scenes.
This clip of Rian Johnson patting Hamill on the back as the actor weeps serves as a kind of testimony to the place where The Last Jedi bridges the fiction of Star Wars and the real world. A lot of people cried about Luke, and Hamill was right ther with them.
Luke Skywalker probably isn’t returning for Episode IX, but then again, because he joined the Force in The Last Jedi, anything is possible. Either way, Star Wars fans are lucky to have him. You can’t imagine Harrison Ford doing this.