J.J. Abrams and John Boyega talk Luke Skywalker’s role in The Force Awakens

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As you’re probably well aware, Luke Skywalker has been missing almost entirely from marketing for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. His face failed to show up on the movie’s poster, despite featuring Mark Hamill’s old co-stars Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher; the trailer, however, boasts an entire one-second shot of his hand (if it is Skywalker’s hand, that is). Responding to the Jedi Knight’s absence from what we’ve seen so far, The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams said that it was no accident – and now, speaking with Entertainment Weekly, he’s gone one step further in explaining Skywalker’s role in the upcoming movie:

‘It was the thing that struck me the hardest, which was the idea that doing a story that took place nearly 40 years after Jedi meant that there would be a generation for whom Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Leia would be as good as myth… They’d be as old and as mythic as the tale of King Arthur. They would be characters who they may have heard of, but maybe not. They’d be characters who they might believe existed, or just sounded like a fairy tale.’

And that generation in The Force Awakens is represented by the film’s protagonist, Rey (Daisy Ridley). Abrams went on to describe how she would view such a mythic figure while living a meagre existence on the desert world of Jaaku.

‘To someone who is living alone and struggling without a formal education or support system, who knows what that person in the literal middle of nowhere would have ever heard about any of these things, or would ever know, and how much that person would have to infer and piece together on their own… So the idea that someone like that would begin to learn that the Jedi were real, and that the Force exists, and that there’s a power in the universe that sounds fanciful but is actually possible, was an incredibly intriguing notion.’

And what about Finn, John Boyega’s rogue stormtrooper? The actor had this to say on his character’s views of these mythical figures:

‘For Finn, he’s been raised from the ashes of the Empire… He’s been taught about Luke Skywalker, he knows about his history. For him it’s like joining the army and then learning about one of the great enemies of your country. It has that effect on him. But in terms of the Force, and the magical stuff that happens, that is the point where Finn kind of questions what is what. What is the Force, what part does Luke Skywalker play in all of this?’

Of course, none of this answers the question: where is Luke Skywalker in The Force Awakens? If Abrams and Boyega haven’t exactly clarified on that point, they’ve certainly deepened what our expectations are as to the nature of Luke’s role in the new film.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens is released – yes, you already know – on the 17th of December 2015 in the UK, and on 18 December 2015 in the US.

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