On December 18, 2020, we saw the final episode of season two of The Mandalorian. It was an epic episode where we saw Luke Skywalker arrive to take Grogu so that he could train him to better control his powers. Luke’s surprise entry made fans go berserk.
For The Mandalorian team, this reaction probably brought relief. After all, intense secretive measures and methods had been adopted to keep this appearance a secret since the very first ep of season 2. So the fact that they were ultimately able to pull it off means that their planning was successful.
But how did they do that exactly? In here, we have pulled out 11 amazing tidbits shown in the new Disney Gallery: Star Wars: The Mandalorian documentary that shows exactly that.
Producers Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau weren’t always sure that bringing Luke Skywalker back was the right idea or not. They said that with decisions of such caliber everyone had to be on the same page. If even one person wasn’t totally sure, then they would stop it.
But thankfully, everyone was sure. However, this wasn’t the end of it all. There was also the question of just how much of Luke they would use. After all, they didn’t really want him to completely overshadow the main characters and story.
Eventually, they realized that since not even one of the characters in the scene knew what we, the audience know now about Luke, so that helped undercut the total magnitude a little for them.
But the planning stage wasn’t the be-all and end of it all. The next step in the process was to get Mark Hamill on board with the entire plan. This actually began even before season one of The Mandalorian.
Back then, Filoni and Favreau asked Hamill if they could show him some of the footage of the show to get his opinion on it. Hamill loved it all and even did uncredited voices in season one.
This included the bartender we see in the Tatooine Cantina. Eventually, before the Disney+ series even premiered, they finally told him about their plan. They did this by bringing in the Grogu puppet and Return of the Jedi outfit to him.
Mark read their script in another room quietly and agreed. The problem back then was that no one was able to figure out how to actually use Mark’s Luke Skywalker at this point.
Hamill thought that eventually, audiences would see something with the post-Return of the Jedi Luke. He was sure that they’d recast him with a younger actor. But when the producers approached him to do it himself, he didn’t quickly jump on it.
This was because he realized that it was a responsibility to the Star Wars character he was known for portraying for more than 40 years. As for the plot he was given, Hamill thought that this specific reveal made a lot of sense to him.
This was because Luke was one of the few people who would even be able to recognize Grogu’s species. After all, he trained under Yoda.
Now that the planning was done and Hamill was on board, the question was- how to actually do it? As expected, Lucasfilm spent a lot of resources and time exploring the deep fake technology.
In deep fake technology imagery and footage from other projects is fed into a computer and the A. I extrapolates it frame by frame so as to map an approximate expression over new footage.
A VFX artist called Landis Fields was locked in a room at Lucasfilm with 4k footage from old interviews, films, etc. He was told to explore deep fake technology so that they could recreate a young Luke Skywalker.
In the end, the team felt like the deep fake technology wasn’t at that stage where it could be used in professional media. So they went with the traditional de-aging technology used in other Star Wars movies like Rogue One.
However, based on the footage seen in the released documentary, the deep fake, even in its rough form was quite good. But it’s understandable why they didn’t go with an untested technology for such an important cameo.
The season two finale of the show was directed by Peyton Reed. Reed had previously directed both the Ant-Man films for Marvel Studios. So he was experienced in dealing with de-aging technology.
After all, in both the Ant-Man movies, de-aging technology was used for de-aging both Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfieffer. Reed used a company called Lola for the Ant-Man movies. Later on, he contracted them for The Mandalorian as well.
The end result was that viewers got to see Hamill’s de-aged younger face. But the voice was definitely faked. Reed used Respeecher, a software program to get younger Mark Hamill’s voice.
Originally there were actually two Luke’s on the set of the show. One was obviously Mark Hamill, and the other was Max Lloyd-Jones, the stunt actor. He filmed all of the same scenes as Hamill just so that he could use them as a reference.
In the beginning, the actor didn’t know what role he was going to be portraying. He was called in by production to read various roles. And it wasn’t until the moment he got cast that they told him which character he was actually going to play.
When Mark Hamill was on the sets to film his quota of scenes, the crew was very small. During production, Hamill has to go into The Egg. This was a specialized camera rig that was made to capture each and every angle of his face in multiple lighting conditions.
In fact, most of the people who were working on The Mandalorian were deliberately in another location- Simi Valley, CA, where they were shooting Robert Rodriguez’s season 2 episode. This was obviously done to keep the secret more of a secret.
It’s easy to assume that if the producers and makers had told everyone that Luke Skywalker was going to show up in the finale, then the secret would not have been kept. After all, it’s not easy to plug all plot-leaking holes in a production the size of The Mandalorian.
However, the makers had to tell everyone something regarding the surprise character that would be showing up. So in the episode script, it was written that prequel and Clones Wars Jedi Plo Koon was the one who was going to show up to take Grogu.
Even when Mark Hamill himself was standing on set, everyone called him Plo Koon. But if you think that this is the only extent they went to then you would be wrong. The team made fake digital effects and concept art as well.
It was a security precaution in case there was a leak. But why did they use Plo Koon and not anyone else? This was because the team thought that since Plo Koon was executive producer Dave Filoni’s favorite Jedi so it was a good misdirect.
But this wasn’t all.
As the release date of the finale got closer, Lucasfilm employees would comb through pop culture and entertainment sites to see if anyone had put the pieces together yet. Thankfully, no one had.
The Luke Skywalker we see in the season two finale of The Mandalorian was the one who had seen the events of Return of the Jedi. So the team used that movie as a touchstone.
For example, the sword fighting techniques that were used in the film were similar to the ones in the movie. But obviously, they were advanced a little keeping in mind the modern audiences.
But they weren’t ever totally polished because Luke doesn’t have a teacher with him right at this point of his life. Also, to give R2-D2 the time-appropriate look, the team used a specific animation that was filmed just outside of Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi and then used in the show.
Most of the Star Wars fans are well aware of the fact that Han Solo’s jacket on Hoth looks completely blue on film. Also, the original toy was completely blue. However, it was brown when they were filming on set.
Also, not many know that Luke’s cloak that was featured in Return of the Jedi was brown too. All the viewers saw it as Black when it was actually brown as well. This was brought up because The Mandalorian team had to decide which color they were ultimately going to make Luke’s outfit.
After all, the team had two choices- they could either remain true to the original costume color that was brown or go with the one that fans have seen in the movie. The team didn’t take any risk and went with the color that fans had seen for years in the movie- black.
When Luke shows up, The Mandalorian uses a piece of music that was written by John Williams. This was the first time they did so. The show played the famous composer’s iconic piece from The Force theme. Judging by the number of people who loved the music, their decision worked.
Overall, bringing in Luke Skywalker was a huge success for The Mandalorian. You can check out the making of the episode in the Disney Gallery: Star Wars: The Mandalorian: Making of the Season 2 Finale streaming right on Disney+.
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