While speaking with Chris Rock at the Tribeca Film Festival this week, J.J. Abrams made a few surprising revelations about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, including that Harrison Ford’s on-set ankle injury actually helped the film more than it hindered it. Abrams also addressed the long-awaited return of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and explained why it took quite a bit of convincing to get Hamill to reprise the role that made him famous.
As Abrams explains, Hamill was initially reluctant to return when he realized how small his role in The Force Awakens was going to be. “We knew that getting to Luke was the whole story, and I was desperate to do the next chunk that we knew would not fit into this one movie,” Abrams says. “But, we knew that we had that ending, but it was a frightening and tricky thing to do, but at first and in all honesty, Mark Hamill was a little resistant.”
“Imagine reading Star Wars, imagine being Mark Hamill and you get the script for the new Star Wars. ‘Oh the opening is good, page two, oh, three and so on – what the f**k is the going on, I’m three pages before the end, the last page, what?’ He was so kind to do it, and at first he was like, ‘Will it seem silly, will it be a joke that he is standing there?’ I said to him, ‘I don’t think it will.’ I said because the whole movie is about that, it could be a great fun drum roll, up to seeing this guy.”
Most fans would probably agree that seeing Luke reveal himself in the film’s final scene was no joke, but an epic, emotional moment that does an excellent job of setting up the next film in the series. As it turns out, even Abrams was surprised by how affecting the reveal scene turned out to be.
“Hamill was the exact same age as Alec Guinness was when he played Obi-Wan. I’m looking at him in the robes, and with the John Williams music, I start to tear up, and I know that this ending could really work.”