We don’t know much about J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII, but we do know that Luke Skywalker is going to very, very different than he used to. Gone is the baby-faced Mark Hamill we all know from A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. And this new photo of the actor looking more grizzled than we’ve ever seen him drives that point home.
If you’ve seen recent picture of him, Hamill has been sporting a rather rugged beard. He’s been seen out and about with his new face sweater, and at one point even quipped about it being contractually obligated. And if the recent rumors we’ve been hearing about Episode VII are in fact true, there’s a very good reason for this new look.
Possible SPOILERS below, as well as some rampant speculation, so be warned.
Recent unsubstantiated—I can’t stress that last word enough—reports have said that Episode VII will, at least in part, involve a search for Luke Skywalker. According to what we’ve heard, the Jedi Knight and hero of the rebellion hasn’t been seen or heard from in more than 30 years, not since the “Battle of Endor” at the end of Return of the Jedi.
We’ve also heard that there are still people out there hunting down stray Jedis. If all of this is the truth, then it makes sense to assume that he’s been hiding out on some out of the way backwater planet somewhere (like Yoda did with Dagobah). Many, including this guy right here, have speculated that the recent three-day shooting excursion to Skellig Michael could have been spent capturing Luke in this hideout. The picturesque island off the coast of Ireland definitely has an otherworldly appearance, and the stone huts and structures left over from a long abandoned monastery would certainly be good place for a wayward Jedi to lay low for a few decades. Now if we could only figure out how these Darth Vader rumors fit into the picture.
Hamill’s son Nathan took this new photo (shared by Hamill), which also features “Lava Bear,” one of the younger Hamill’s artistic creations. (You can go to Nathan’s website to see the travelling adventures of Lava Bear, including a shot of him in front of one of those huts on Skellig Michael.) It shows the older Hamill posed in front of the legendary Pinewood Studios, where Episode VII has been filming, and will be again later this month when the production returns from a two-week hiatus following Harrison Ford’s injury.
If this is even part of Hamill’s final appearance for the film, he definitely has the appearance of an elder statesman Jedi, like an Obi-Wan Kenobi. No matter how he looks, it’s hard for fans not to get excited by seeing this older, wiser version of Luke back in action. Just seeing that “Now Filming” sign is enough to get you jazzed. It’s entirely possible that this could be the best look we get at him until Star Wars: Episode VII opens everywhere on December 18, 2015 (though we may have caught a glimpse of Luke’s mechanical hand last week).