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Over 40 years ago, Star Wars: A New Hope hit the scene, introducing audiences to the war between the Rebel Alliance and Galactic Empire, and pushing Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker on the path to becoming a Jedi and hero in a galaxy far, far away. When we first meet Luke in A New Hope, he’s with his Uncle Owen inspecting the droids the Jawas have brought to the Lars homestead, but that wasn’t how he was originally supposed to be introduced.
This deleted scene from A New Hope brought Luke Skywalker into play by having him witness the battle between Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer and Princess Leia’s ship from Tatooine’s surface. He then goes on to hang out with his friends at Tosche Station. As Mark Hamill sees it, removing this scene from the first Star Wars movie removes a significant chunk of the character’s motivation. In Hamill’s words:
There are a couple of things that are good for the character. No. 1, he is ridiculed roundly by his peers. So he's not particularly cool or popular. Koo Stark is the only other female actor in the movie ... and she calls me 'Wormie.' So I am not popular, and then I bump into Biggs Darklighter, played by Garrick Hagon, and I go 'Wow!' You can see we're good friends. He's dressed in an Imperial uniform and I'm going, 'Wow! That's so great! I can't wait until I can get off the dump of a planet and join with you.' And he takes me outside and says, 'Luke, as soon as I get the chance, I am going to jump ship and join the Rebels.' The only reason that is interesting to me is that Luke has no political persuasion. He thinks it's great he is in the Empire! Luke wants to be in the Empire if it will get him off the farm! So he is completely pure in that he is not politically motivated in any way, shape or form.
While Mark Hamill understands why this scene was cut from the A New Hope, as he sees it, Luke Skywalker being introduced in this way was more organic than what we got in the finalized version of A New Hope. Sure, the movie does a decent job of establishing Luke’s life as a farm boy on a desert planet, but by taking out Luke observing the space battle and interacting with his friends, you get less of an idea of where his headspace is at before C-3PO and R2-D2 enter his life and inadvertently push him into taking his first steps into a larger world.
Mark Hamill added that this deleted scene also provides extra context for when Luke takes part in the assault on the Death Star towards the end of A New Hope, because as Hamill explained, the reason Luke heeds Obi-Wan Kenobi’s advice, switches off his targeting computer and relies on the Force to fire the proton torpedoes is because of Biggs’ death. Viewers get that Luke and Biggs are friends from their brief conversation before the big battle, but one becomes more invested in their relationship after seeing them say goodbye to each other on Tatooine.
During his appearance on Joe and Anthony Russo’s Pizza Film School podcast, Mark Hamill also mentioned how Return of the Jedi cut out Luke Skywalker’s introduction as well, as originally we first see Luke in this movie as he completes his green lightsaber on Tatooine. Thus, in Hamill’s mind, The Empire Strikes Back marks the only “organic entrance” for Luke in the Original Trilogy that made it to the final cut, where viewers reunite with him as he’s riding a tauntaun on Hoth and spots the Imperial probe droid landing.
While there was a long stretch of time when it looked like the Original Trilogy would mark Mark Hamill’s only film appearances as Luke Skywalker, that changed with the birth of the Sequel Trilogy, resulting in the actor cameoing at the end of The Force Awakens, having a major role in The Last Jedi and briefly appearing in The Rise of Skywalker. Now Hamill has officially bid farewell to to the character, but you can count on him to continuing to talk about his time in the Star Wars universe for years to come.
You can see the Luke Skywalker-centric deleted scene from A New Hope, among many others, on Disney+, which has all of the Skywalker Saga movies available now. Feel free to sign up for the Mouse House’s streaming service if you aren’t already, and keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more news on what’s happening with the Star Wars franchise on the film and TV fronts.