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The Mandalorian: How a house call from Grogu himself convinced Mark Hamill to return as Luke
By now, every Star Wars fan on the planet knows about Luke Skywalker's brief, yet epic, return in the Season 2 finale of The Mandalorian. And if someone doesn't...well, they've probably been spending most of their time at the bottom of an Exogorth burrow. In any case, Lucasfilm and Disney allowed ample time (just over eight months, to be exact) for audiences to catch up with the live-action series before releasing the latest installment of Disney Gallery.
Now streaming on Disney+, the 42-minute special is solely dedicated to every single aspect that went into Luke's cameo — from playing around with Deepfake technology to the painstaking efforts Jon Favreau & Co. took to keep the moment a secret. One of the most interesting tidbits we learned from the documentary is that Favreau (creator, executive producer, and writer), Peyton Reed (director of the Season 2 finale), and even Grogu (aka Baby Yoda) himself paid a visit to Mark Hamill in an effort to convince the 69-year-old actor to step back into his Jedi persona once again.
"Over the holidays — this would've been December 2019 — Jon and I drove up together to Mark's house," Reed recalls. "We brought the script and we brought Luke Skywalker's wardrobe and we brought Grogu with us. Mark was so gracious. We came in, Jon and I sat with Mark's wife as he was in his office reading the script in real time. So, we were on pins and needles because it wasn't necessarily a given that he was gonna be interested. I think he's very protective of this character, and rightfully so. He came out and he was thrilled — and I think a huge weight was lifted off of Jon's shoulders when that happened."
Like Werner Herzog's character in Season 1, Hamill very much wanted to "see the baby" before agreeing to take part. Hamill states that "the Grogu puppet is so believable," that it gave him flashbacks to shooting scenes with Yoda (operated and voiced by Frank Oz) for The Empire Strikes Back. "It was so real to me. I just thought when I was watching the episodes, I said, 'I've gotta see The Child. And it's justified because I'm the only one that has experience with the species."
To keep Luke under wraps, Favreau's script made mention of a very different Jedi: Plo Koon. The misdirect was so elaborate, in fact, that the on-set crew was kept to a minimum, while fake concept art and temporary visual effects were created in order throw potential spoiler fiends off the scent.
"Everybody knew that Rosario [Dawson] was gonna be Ahsoka; everybody knew that Temuera [Morrison] was gonna be Boba. Everything kind of leaked. We didn't announce anything," Favreau explains. "But little-by-little, leaks spring and you just want the ship to get back to the harbor before the whole thing is done."
"In hindsight, it's a bit of a miracle that it remained a secret," Reed admits. "I'm thrilled because for people to be able to discover that in real time was magical. This is a character that people have over a 40-year relationship with. There is an emotion that just comes out of seeing that character again ... There was always that fan boy part of that wanted to see, 'What's he like in full, peak Jedi mode post-Return of the Jedi?' And we had a chance to do that."
The entire first two seasons of The Mandalorian are now available to stream on Disney+. A third season has already been approved, but won't premiere until after The Book of Boba Fett spinoff with Temuera Morrison and Ming-Na Wen drops, likely later this year.