Star Wars: The Last Jedi's Luke and Leia are 'very different'

Who is the last Jedi?

Does the title of the new Star Wars movie refer to Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi Master? Or does it mean him AND Rey, whom we assume Luke trains in the ways of a Jedi in this movie?

Whatever the title may mean, it is safe to assume that all eyes will be on Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley's master and apprentice relationship in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

"It seems to be an obsession for people to want to know what the relationships are and that's understandable," Hamill said in one of a series of interview transcripts provided by Walt Disney Malaysia.

"So much of the previous stories have to do with lineage: Who's your father, who's your surprise sister, who's your mother? In this, it's broken down a little bit."

Director Rian Johnson said that the first thing he had to figure out while writing the Luke/Rey dynamic was, "What Luke's deal is".

"Why is he on that island? Because I know he's not a coward and I know he's not hiding. I know if he's there, he's taken himself out of the fight, and he must have a reason for doing that. What is that reason? That was the puzzle that I felt like I had to solve before I could start anything," the director said.

"I worked and worked and thought and thought until finally I got to something where I could put myself in his shoes. It allowed me to understand Luke in this movie. I understand where he is, and I understand how he got there through the events.

"Now, let's see what happens when Rey comes into his life and messes everything up basically by showing up on his doorstep with a lightsaber!"

Ridley added this about Rey's approach towards Luke: "She's basically trying to convince Luke to leave with her, and go back to the Resistance. And Luke is totally hard on her. Pretty harsh, actually. But, she persists, and crazy stuff happens."

According to Ridley - who can also be seen in Murder On The Orient Express - Johnson has put the emphasis more on Rey pushing Luke in The Last Jedi, and that the interaction between Rey and Luke is key in developing her character further.

"It opens up the Rey journey. It's not clear where Rey is going but in her trying to win over Luke, the development comes," the 25-year-old actress said.

"Even on Jakku, in the backend of nowhere in space, she's heard stories about Luke. And he makes her realise it's not all as rosy as it seems to be.

"Good people make bad choices, and bad people can make good choices. She's learning her own strengths and weaknesses and continuing to learn about the human psyche, because she hasn't really had relationships with people before."

Walking The Skies Again

In 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens largely focused on the introduction of new characters like Rey, Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), and shocked us with the death of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) at the hands of his son Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

The Last Jedi, however, turns the spotlight back on the Skywalker family, specifically twins Luke and Leia, played by the late Carrie Fisher in what was her final role before her death last December.

According to Hamill, the Luke Skywalker he plays here is very different from the hopeful, idealistic Luke we saw in the original trilogy.

"Luke's in a much different place than we've ever seen him in before. He's disillusioned. He's turned off the Force and renounced the idea of the Jedi order. It was unexpected for me as an actor. My character always represented hope and optimism. And now, here I am pessimistic, disillusioned and demoralised," he said, adding that walking back on to the Millennium Falcon after all these years was "bittersweet".

"Everywhere you looked, these memories come flooding back. It's like going to your old high school or the house you lived in sixth grade. The detail's absolutely perfect.

"It's just as I remember it. I climbed up and down the ladder, got in the hold where we stowed away and sat in the cockpit with my grown children and wife. Later I slipped away and got really choked up. This is a moment, and it'll be gone," Hamill, 66, recalled.

In a separate interview conducted before her death, Fisher said it was interesting to see Hamill as Luke once more. "I always think of him as Luke. Mark and I have a very sibling-like relationship. Our relationships in the movie are very much like our relationships in life. Am I Leia, or is Leia me? We take care of each other, in a way," she said.

From Princess To General

In terms of her role in The Last Jedi, Fisher painted a picture of a jaded General Leia Organa, who now has carried the burden of leadership on her shoulders for far too long.

"Leia's exhausted. She goes from being someone who's shooting guns and swinging across chasms to killing Jabba the Hutt, to being serious, worrying a lot," Fisher said.

"I like the relationship with Harrison, and always wish there would be more of that because we were good together. She has a lot more responsibility and there's a lot more reason for her to be exhausted."

Like Luke with Rey, Leia also gets her own protege: Poe Dameron, the Resistance's top pilot, played by Oscar Isaacs.

"Poe is Leia's protege, and in a way she thinks of him as Han, which is both the good news and the bad news. He's dominating, and he doesn't listen to her. She's trying to train him. We have some moments together," Fisher said.

Johnson said that since the theme of mentors runs through this whole series, it made a lot of sense that Leia would be that to Poe.

"If Leia is the general in charge of the Resistance, her ace pilot is Poe. Poe and Leia are kind of parallel and very different, but the same way that Luke and Rey play off each other, Leia and Poe play off each other during the course of the film," the director added.

According to Johnson, Leia is one of the first female figures in movies that girls and women could look up to, and Fisher was very conscious of that.

"She felt a responsibility to make Leia great," he said, adding that The Last Jedi has a lot of "really interesting strong and powerful and weak and conflicted and good and bad female characters".

"In addition to Leia and Rey, we have the new characters like Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern). I got to work with a lot of amazing actresses, like Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma. There are a lot of kick-a** women in this movie, which is pretty great," Johnson said.

For Fisher, whose daughter Billie Lourd also stars in The Last Jedi, Star Wars was more than just a movie franchise. "It's about family. That's what is so powerful about it. I go to Comic-Con and meet a lot of these people and it's very powerful for them.

"They're showing the films to their children and their grandchildren. They're sharing something that moved them as a child. That's personal," Fisher said.

"I've watched a lot of that over the years, like people coming in with babies that have the Princess Leia outfit on. That's the thing that makes it so powerful for a lot of people. It's an identifying universe and something that creates a community.

"Anything that does that can heal people. You can have that thing in common and find others. I don't know that it saves lives, but I know it improves them."