The Force Is Strong With Them
♦Vanity Fair just commissioned a huge photo shoot on Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi and here’s some of their huge article on the film itself…
I. “We’re Going Back?”
The first trip to Skellig Michael was wondrous: an hour-long boat ride to a craggy, green island off the coast of Ireland’s County Kerry, and then a hike up hundreds of stone steps to a scenic cliff where, a thousand years earlier, medieval Christian monks had paced and prayed. This is where Mark Hamill reprised his role as Luke Skywalker for the first time since 1983, standing opposite Daisy Ridley, whose character, Rey, was the protagonist of The Force Awakens, J. J. Abrams’s resumption of George Lucas’s Star Wars movie saga. The opening sentence of the film’s scrolling-text “crawl,” a hallmark of the series, was “Luke Skywalker has vanished.” Atop Skellig Michael, at the picture’s very end, after an arduous journey by Rey, came the big payoff: a cloaked, solitary figure unhooding himself to reveal an older, bearded Luke, who wordlessly, inscrutably regarded the tremulous Rey as she presented to him the lightsaber he had lost (along with his right hand) in a long-ago duel with Darth Vader, his father turned adversary. It was movie magic: a scene that, though filmed in 2014 and presented in theaters in 2015, is already etched in cinematic history.
“When I read the script for Episode VIII, I went, ‘Oh my God, we’re going back?’ Because I said I was never going back,” Hamill told me when I sat down with him recently at his home in Malibu. He wondered, in vain, if they could drop him in by chopper this time, “which is so clueless of me, because there’s no landing pad, and it would mar the beauty of it all,” he said. Hamill is a youthful 65 but a sexagenarian nevertheless; whereas the fit young members of the crew were given 45 minutes to get up to the now iconic Rey-Luke meeting spot—carrying heavy equipment—Hamill was allotted an hour and a half, “and I had to stop every 10, 15 minutes to rest.”