Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson and star Daisy Ridley describe Luke Skywalker's exile and his dynamic with Rey in the film.
Luke Skywalker is set to be a key part in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and the mystery about his exile factors heavily into Rey’s arc in the film. As the hero of the original trilogy, Luke was the kindhearted protagonist who was always there for his friends and never gave up on his father. In the sequels, however, the character has changed dramatically. Following Ben Solo’s turn to the dark side, Luke feels it’s better if he stays out of galactic affairs, choosing a life of isolation amongst the porgs on Ahch-To as the Resistance and First Order become embroiled in a war. That is until a young scavenger from Jakku comes to the remote world with his old lightsaber, and now Luke has to make tough choices.
Lucasfilm has done an admirable job keeping Luke’s post-Return of the Jedi activities under wraps, revealing only the most basic clues over the last couple of years. All of this has been building to Episode VIII, where viewers will finally learn what happened and why Skywalker ran away. We’ve already learned that his reason for exile informs his entire relationship with Rey, and now the Last Jedi creative team is elaborating on that dynamic.
As part of EW‘s massive coverage on the film, writer/director Rian Johnson talked about Luke’s self-imposed exile and how it serves the main narrative of the movie:
“The very first step in the writing of this was figuring out why he’s on that island. We know that he is not a coward. He’s not just hiding because he’s scared. But we also know that he must know his friends are in danger. He must know the galaxy needs him. And he’s sitting on this island in the middle of nowhere. There had to be an answer. It had to be something where Luke Skywalker believes he’s doing the right thing – and the process of figuring out what that is and unpacking it is the journey for Rey.”
From the sound of things, Rey’s relationship with Luke is going to be the polar opposite of the one she had with Han Solo. Whereas the smuggler instantly took her under his wing, the old Jedi Master is much more standoffish, rejecting Rey’s presence and being almost annoyed with her. Daisy Ridley told the outlet, “She’s so hopeful to everything, and obviously there’s a hint of, ‘What the hell?’” when it comes to Rey and Luke. Remember, in The Force Awakens, Rey was infatuated by Skywalker, hearing legends of his great adventures. Now, she’s come face to face with her hero, and he’s a “grumpy old man on an island who doesn’t want me here.” Despite all this, it’s up to Rey to encourage Luke to rejoin the fight, so it’ll be interesting to see how that happens. Whatever reason Luke has for running away, the Resistance (led by his twin sister) needs him more than ever.
The big question at the forefront of The Last Jedi is if Luke and Rey have a history together. Hamill in particular has had fun with the theories, even teasing Ridley in the EW article by asking, “But does he not know her?” Regardless of whether or not Rey is the estranged daughter of Luke, Johnson seems to have set the stage for a truly fascinating conflict between two heroes and emotional arcs for both. Fans have waited a very long time to see Hamill as Luke again (wordless cameos notwithstanding), and Episode VIII could be a challenging, but rewarding, experience.