It’s no secret that George Lucas’ original scripts for Star Wars featured a character named Luke Starkiller — not Luke Skywalker. In fact, early drafts included that name right in their titles. One was called Adventures of the Starkiller as taken from the Journal of the Whills, Saga I: The Star Wars and Lucas titled a later draft The Star Wars: From The Adventures of Luke Starkiller.
Mark Hamill, who of course played Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga, revealed yesterday that Luke’s last name was Starkiller long enough into the production of the first film that he had to reshoot the scene where he rescues Princess Leia from her cell on the Death Star:
Which raises the question: How many other Star Wars actors had to reshoot the times they said “Starkiller” in the movie? I asked Hamill on Twitter yesterday, and he was generous enough to respond:
As it turns out, the only time the name Skywalker was spoken in Episode IV is during the scene in Princess Leia’s cell, and Luke only says it once.
Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru never use Luke’s last name when eating dinner with him or when they talk about his father. And when Luke asks Obi-Wan Kenobi about his father and the Clone Wars, Obi-Wan never says “Skywalker.” In fact, the name Anakin is never uttered by any character in Star Wars until Luke speaks with Obi-Wan’s force ghost in Return of the Jedi.
That held true until the 1997 “special edition” of Episode IV, which restored a cut scene where one additional character says Luke’s last name.
Before getting into their X-Wings at the rebel base on Yavin IV, Luke and his childhood friend Biggs quickly reconnect. They’re interrupted by Red Leader Garven Dreis, who shouts out, “Skywalker! You sure you can handle this ship?” Dreis is out of focus when he actually says “Skywalker,” so it’s tough to tell whether his lips match up or the dialogue was re-recorded at some point. Star Wars was one of the last movies the actor, Drewe Henley, performed in (not including the shots that were resurrected for Rogue One). Henley died in 2016.
Hamill later tweeted that he wasn’t a fan of having to learn a new name for his character.
Rick and Morty and Community creator Dan Harmon reimagined the Death Star rescue scene with “Luke Starkiller,” and his version goes a long way to explain why Lucas may have changed the family name to Skywalker:
The name Starkiller has continued to pop up from time to time in the Star Wars universe. The giant First Order mega-weapon in The Force Awakens is called Starkiller Base, as director J.J. Abrams’ nod to Lucas’ early drafts. And in the video games Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and The Force Unleashed II, players take on the role of a powerful force-user named Galen Marek (technically, his clone in the video game sequel) who goes by the code name “Starkiller.” According to actor Sam Witwer, who voiced Starkiller in the video game, that character almost made an appearance in Disney XD's Star Wars Rebels.