Mark Hamill returns as Luke Skywalker. Screenshot from The Mandalorian.
A new episode of Disney Gallery was released Wednesday, Aug. 25, dedicated entirely to the season two finale of The Mandalorian. The episode detailed the great lengths filmmakers went to in order to ensure the surprise return of Mark Hamill as a young Luke Skywalker did not leak before the episode aired.
The season two finale — which aired Dec. 18, 2020 — was a big moment for Star Wars fans. Following backlash for the way Rian Johnson handled a post-Return of the Jedi Luke, The Mandalorian made up for the Skywalker misstep by bringing the galaxy’s most powerful Jedi back the way fans wanted: cloaked in black and wielding his iconic green lightsaber.
The show’s creators decided to design a series of fail-safes to keep Luke’s comeback a secret, including an entirely fake storyline with a Jedi named Plo Koon as the one to rescue Grogu and Mando. Plo Koon is a real character who played a minor role in Revenge of the Sith and the animated series The Clone Wars.
“It’s fairly well known by deep-core fans that Plo Koon is my favorite Jedi,” executive producer Dave Filoni said in the episode. “And a lot of people — if Plo Koon from the script got out — would assume, ‘Well, of course, because Dave likes Plo Koon.’”
To sell the Plo Koon feint, the team created original artwork and digital effects with the character. The show’s writer, Jon Favreau, even wrote Plo Koon into the script given to Mark Hamill and director Peyton Reed, only revealing the character’s true identity in person. When it finally came time to bring Hamill on set to shoot, most of the cast and crew were shooting another scene at a different location, allowing the secret to remain among the smallest possible group.
The lengths taken to bolster the fake Plo Koon storyline might seem extreme, except for the fact Rosario Dawson’s secret role as Ahsoka Tano and Temuera Morrison’s role as Boba Fett both leaked before their episodes aired.
“Everything leaked,” Favreau said. “We didn’t announce anything. But little by little, leaks spring, and you just want the ship to get back to harbor before the whole thing is done.”
Mark Hamill is no stranger to keeping Star Wars’ secrets. After all, he had to keep Darth Vader’s true identity under wraps for more than a year until The Empire Strikes Back hit theaters in 1980. In the new Disney Gallery episode, Hamill explains how much things have changed since the advent of social media.
“All it takes is one person in a lab, treating the film, color correction, there’s just so many variables and so many unknowns,” Hamill pointed out. “One person who sees that and goes on social media, goes, ‘Guess what I saw today.’”
The elaborate cover-up was a success, and even the most hardcore fans were caught off guard when Luke’s X-wing glided onto the scene in The Mandalorian finale. The latest Disney Gallery episode also goes behind the scenes of the immense undertaking of making Hamill — who turns 70 next month — appear the appropriate age. Check out the impressive special effects needed to bring Luke Skywalker back to life now on Disney+.
Mac Caltrider is a senior staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine. He served in the US Marine Corps and is a former police officer. Caltrider earned his bachelor’s degree in history and now reads anything he can get his hands on. He is also the creator of Pipes & Pages, a site intended to increase readership among enlisted troops. Caltrider spends most of his time reading, writing, and waging a one-man war against premature hair loss.
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