“It wasn’t in any of the scripts”: The Greatest Star Wars Twist Was Kept a Secret Even from Mark Hamill for a Very Valid Reason

George Lucas refused to tell Mark Hamill the game-changing Empire Strikes Back twist for one very good reason.

mark hamill in star wars

SUMMARY

  • George Lucas' Star Wars saga delivered one of the greatest twists in cinema in The Empire Strikes Back, which directly affected Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker.
  • During an interview, Lucas admitted to keeping the twist a secret from Hamill to get an authentic reaction from the actor during filming.
  • Hamill himself revealed that he was told about the twist at the last possible moment by director Irvin Kershner and kept it a secret till the release.
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Geroge Lucas’ Star Wars franchise took the world by storm in the late 70s and 80s and continues to expand even today. Despite having three distinct trilogies and countless spin-off media, the one twist that changed the face of the galaxy far, far away came in the second installment The Empire Strikes.

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The Empire Strikes Back
The Empire Strikes Back has one of the best Star Wars twists (Credit: Lucasfilm).

The game-changing twist in the film presented the protagonist Luke Skywalker, played by Mark Hamill, with a new challenge. Therefore, it might surprise some fans to learn that the twist was kept a secret from Hamill until the last possible moment. Here is what George Lucas had to say about keeping the twist a secret from Mark Hamill.

Geroge Lucas Explains Why He Kept Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Twist Secret From Mark Hamill

george lucas amc
George Lucas kept The Empire Strikes Back twist a secret from Mark Hamill (Credit: AMC).

Geroge Lucas launched the Star Wars franchise in 1977 with the original film and continued the space opera saga with The Empire Strikes Back, directed by Irvin Kershner. The second installment shocked everyone with the surprise revelation that the primary villain Darth Vader was the father of protagonist Luke Skywalker.

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Reflecting on the film on its 40th anniversary, Lucas spoke with StarWars.com and discussed handling the twist with care so it would not leak beforehand. Lucas stated that he refrained from revealing the twist to anyone, including actor Mark Hamill who played the role of Luke.

I didn’t tell anybody — anybody — about it. And it wasn’t in any of the scripts. It wasn’t even in the story treatments. I kept that aspect of it secret and I was the only one that knew about it.

Lucas made the above statement explaining that Hamill was only informed about the twist on the day of the shoot so that he could react appropriately. The filmmaker admitted that before the movie’s release only a handful of people, including sound designer Ben Burtt and Darth Vader voice actor James Earl Jones knew the secret twist.

Mark Hamill Talks Learning Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Twist For the First Time

Mark Hamill in a still from the movie.
Mark Hamill admitted he was told about The Empire Strikes Back twist at the last moment (Credit: Lucasfilm).

During an appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Mark Hamill opened up about being one of the few people to know the twist in The Empire Strikes Back beforehand. Hamill revealed that during initial filming, the scene was shot with alternative dialog for Darth Vader. Director Irvin Kershner later pulled Hamill aside and revealed the secret to the actor.

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I know it, George knows it, and when I tell you, you’ll know it, but if it leaks, we’ll know it was you.

Hamill made the above statement by recalling how he first learned of the twist that Vader was Luke’s father. From Hamill’s words, it is safe to deduce that he was at the time one of only three people to be aware of the actual twist.

Meanwhile, the throwaway dialog had Vader revealing that Obi-Wan Kenobi had killed Luke’s father. On the other hand, Lucas’ interview confirmed that James Earl Jones dubbed the line during post-production. Thus, Lucas went to great lengths to hide the secret from Hamill, primarily to get an authentic emotional reaction from the actor.

The Empire Strikes Back and other Star Wars films are streaming on Disney+. 

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Pratik Handore

Written by Pratik Handore

Articles Published: 636

Pratik is a writer at FandomWire, with a content writing experience of five years. Although he has a Bachelors in Hospitality, his fascination with all things pop culture led him to writing articles on a variety of topics ranging from latest streaming releases to unheard movie trivia. When not writing, you can find him reading manga, or watching classic TV shows.