Mark Hamill Discusses Luke Skywalker's Political Naivety in Star Wars' Deleted Scenes

Biggs tells Luke his real plans outside of Tosche Station.
Biggs tells Luke his real plans outside of Tosche Station.
Screenshot: Lucasfilm

The Tosche station deleted scene from Star Wars: A New Hope paints a fascinating picture of early plans to flesh out the galaxy far, far away, even if, in hindsight, it was probably for the best that it remained on the cutting room floor. But as Mark Hamill recently reflected, one sad reason it remains mostly hidden is the insight it gives to Luke’s character.

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Speaking recently as a guest on the Russo Brothers’ Instagram Live series, the Pizza Film School Hamill reflected on one of the earliest deleted scenes in Star Wars history. It would’ve seen Luke witness the Tantive IV and Devastator’s brief battle above Tatooine before heading on over to Tosche to get those power converters he loves whining about. There, Luke bumps into a few friends: Camie and Fixer, but also a returned Biggs Darklighter, who’s graduated from the Imperial Academy that Luke so desperately wants to flee to himself... but as Biggs confides to Luke, he’s got no plans of staying part of the Empire’s regime.

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It’s easy to see why this scene was cut from the final film—it slows down Luke meeting Obi-Wan and getting to the tragedy that drives him to abandon any dream of joining the Empire and instead become a Jedi like his father before him. We don’t need to learn that Luke is Biggs’ friend here, because that information naturally comes up when they’re reunited as fellow Rebel pilots on Yavin IV. But, as Hamill lamented, what you miss out on is actually seeing Luke’s political allegiances in this moment—and those politics are basically “whoever can get me off this dustbowl quick enough has my space-vote.”

“There a couple of things that are good for the character—number one, he is ridiculed roundly by his peers. So he’s not particularly cool or popular,” Hamill joked. “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.’

“The only reason that is interesting to me is that Luke has no political persuasion,” Hamill continued. “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.”

It’s fascinating to watch Luke over the course of the scene as Biggs tells him he’s not returned home as a visiting hero of the Imperial Navy but to say goodbye before defecting to the side he actually believes in. Luke is excited by Biggs’ success at the academy—because he’s desperately eager to replicate that success himself someday—but he’s likewise just as excited when Biggs tells him of his plans to join the Alliance, blurting out “The Rebellion!?” loud enough that the orbiting Star Destroyer could probably hear him.

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There’s a naiveté to Luke here, and throughout these early moments of Star Wars’ first act: he thinks the civil war between the Empire and the Alliance is concerned with worlds so far away from Tatooine that he can’t really reconcile why they’re fighting in the way Biggs has already. Anything that could get him off-world and to any kind of excitement—even signing up for the Empire—is worth it to satiate Luke’s innocent wanderlust in this moment. That is, until he’s directly confronted by the Empire’s tyranny when he returns to the Lars homestead to find the burning corpses of his Aunt and Uncle. That pretty quickly shows him the cost of presumptive innocence!

It’s an interesting beat for Luke we miss with this moment left on the cutting room floor, one that paints a slightly more complex morality for Star Wars’ universe, albeit just for a moment. You can watch the whole thing on the Disney+ version of A New Hope if you want to revisit for yourself, or watch Hamill wax lyrical about Star Wars and, more specifically, The Empire Strikes Back, in the two-part episode of Russo Brothers Pizza Film School in the video above.

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James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!

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DISCUSSION

lightninglouie
lightninglouie

The weird thing about the OT is that you never really get a sense of what things are like in the bigger galaxy. If there’s a massive groundswell of opposition to the Empire, we never see it besides the Rebel soldiers. Granted, we know that the Empire is bad — they have no compunction over blowing up Alderaan or killing Luke’s foster parents — but we never see them do anything much of anything else that would register as evil in the day-to-day sense of living under an oppressive regime.

This is something that even the sequels get right — in their first appearance, the First Order murders a village of innocent bystanders, and in the course of the ST we learn that they enslave children for their slave armies, bomb civilian populations, and put down any uprising without mercy. They also act a lot more like Space Nazis than their Imperial equivalents, who come across more as bored functionaries and bureaucrats than fanatics.

I’ve always liked the Tosche Station scenes for the reasons Hamill mentions —not just because you get a sense of Luke’s (low) place in his social circle, but because you also understand what it’s like to be a citizen in the Empire. Luke realizes that the Empire isn’t ideal, but he figures Tatooine is so remote and insignificant that the Empire would never want anything to do with it. The line about being drafted into the service is a reminder that Lucas was writing his story just as the Vietnam War was winding down and that the Empire was supposed to be the USA, bogged down in an asymmetrical war it was losing badly. I wonder how differently the movie would’ve been received if these scenes had stayed in the final version.