How Star Wars Creators Kept Luke Skywalker Secret in The Mandalorian

Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni utilized Jedi mind tricks — and digital trickery — so as to not spoil Luke Skywalker's surprise return in Star Wars: The Mandalorian. Set five years after Return of the Jedi, Season 2 of The Mandalorian ends with Luke Skywalker (a de-aged Mark Hamill and body double Max Lloyd-Jones) rescuing Grogu, the Force-powerful child in the care of bounty hunter Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal). During a joint appearance at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim on Thursday, the creators behind The Mandalorian explained how Lucasfilm kept the Jedi Master's top-secret appearance under wraps

"It's really difficult [preventing spoilers]," executive producer Filoni said on stage at Star Wars Celebration. "I mean, we don't even tell most everybody on set what's going on all the time. And that's not always intentional. We come up with little code names and things. I think we think of how we would have felt to see it as fans ourselves and try to think like that." 

Series creator Favreau, who scripted Skywalker's return in "Chapter 16: The Rescue," equated the difficulty to "trying to wrap Christmas presents with everybody running around the house." 

With help from actor and body double Graham Hamilton, Hamill would reprise his iconic Skywalker Saga role once more in the Mandalorian spinoff series The Book of Boba Fett, this time opposite Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson). 

"You forget sometimes that people coming in, like Rosario, didn't even know she was in a scene with Luke because we kept calling him Plo Koon," said Filoni, referring to a less-famous Jedi who appeared in the Star Wars prequels trilogy and The Clone Wars. Favreau and Filoni used the name "Plo Koon" as a code name to conceal Skywalker's identity. 

"When we made that the code, we thought, 'Well, that makes sense, because people think that I would bring him back because people know I like that character,'" Filoni explained. "But we didn't."

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(Photo: Disney+/Lucasfilm)

Added Favreau, "We even had some of the artwork, the production art, we wouldn't have them draw Luke Skywalker in. We had them draw [Plo Koon]."

The production created "these awesome paintings of Plo Koon," Filoni recalled, "and I'm like, 'Only I get to see this, no one else got to see this.' We thought of putting him in, though, at one point." 

It was a blend of digital technology and Hamill's on-set performance that brought a younger Luke Skywalker to life in The Mandalorian and Boba Fett, de-aging Hamill to five years older than the actor was in 1983's Return of the Jedi. Favreau and Filoni went to great lengths concealing Skywalker's appearance — going so far as to commission a CGI model of Plo Koon. 

"We even had a CGI head for that character, so that when you saw the dailies, or the editing room, it looked like that was the character," Favreau said. "We actually paid for VFX that we didn't use just to fool people who were working on this show (laughs)."

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Favreau and Filoni next sit down for Mando+: A Conversation with Jon Favreau & Dave Filoni, a panel taking a "look back and a look ahead at what's to come" in The Mandalorian Season 3, on Saturday, May 28 at Star Wars Celebration. The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett are now streaming on Disney+.