Disney+’s The Mandalorian season 2 finale continues an actor tradition that first began with Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy. Before Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu were reunited in The Book of Boba Fett’s final episode “Chapter 7,” season 2 of The Mandalorian ended with their heart-wrenching separation and the stunning reveal that the mysterious Jedi who came to their rescue onboard Moff Gideon’s cruiser is none other than a young post-Return of the Jedi Luke Skywalker intent on training the child at his Jedi academy. From the initial idea to execution, Disney Gallery’s the making-of episode for “Chapter 16: The Rescue” shows that the Luke Skywalker scene took lots of planning and subterfuge to pull off in absolute secrecy.
Utilizing digital de-aging techniques and a body double, The Mandalorian was able to recreate Mark Hamill as young Luke. With the added complication of social media to consider, show-runner Jon Favreau, executive producer Dave Filoni, and director Peyton Reed went to extremes to ensure that the Luke Skywalker secret wouldn’t be leaked to the public. Some of those safeguards included adding misinformation into the script and creating fake concept art of Plo Koon, a Jedi Master from the Republic Era. While it was previously believed that the entire cast of The Mandalorian was left in the dark about Luke’s return, Pedro Pascal claims he knew about the secret ahead of time.
While promoting the film The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Pascal gave an interview (via Vanity Fair) the interviewer asked if it was true that Pascal didn’t know that Luke Skywalker was going to be in The Mandalorian season 2 finale. Pascal responded, “It’s not true. I knew he was.” Since many of the actors present in the final scene, including Giancarlo Esposito, have mentioned they weren’t told of Luke’s return, the fact that Pascal was entrusted with the secret is very reminiscent of Mark Hamill’s own experience filming the original Star Wars trilogy. In a tweet from 2020 commending the “Luke, I am your father” scene from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, a fan asked Hamill about the cast and crew’s reaction when they learned about the classic plot twist. Responding to the fan, Hamill explained that a fake revelation had been written into The Empire Strikes Back script to keep the true reveal a secret, which meant that only a select few (including himself) knew about Luke’s true parentage while filming.
Just as Mark Hamill was privy to one of the most iconic secret identity reveals in cinematic history, Pascal’s knowledge of Hamill reprising the role of Luke in The Mandalorian continues the Star Wars tradition that only a single actor on set is informed of a huge plot point before it’s revealed to the general public. It’s perhaps most interesting that this was still such a huge concern when filming Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. It can feel like the issue of spoilers has become worse in the social media age, but it was clearly always a problem for leaks.
Because Mark Hamill was the first actor to start this Star Wars tradition, the idea of an actor from the franchise being required to keep yet another big Star Wars secret almost feels like a passing of the torch, especially since Hamill’s presence on set was the detail Pedro Pascal was asked to keep quiet. While the efforts to prevent any leaks were the result of a lot of diligence on the part of The Mandalorian executives, the true MVP of the story isn’t the eponymous Mando actor who successfully kept the secret under wraps, but rather Mark Hamill himself, who concealed not one, but two important Star Wars secrets for years at a time.