Even in George Lucas' plans for the Star Wars sequel trilogy, Luke Skywalker was going to die. However, actor Mark Hamill reveals the filmmaker's version saw the character meet his fate at the end of Star Wars: Episode IX, not Episode VIII.
"I happen to know that George didn't kill Luke until the end of [Episode] 9, after he trained Leia," Hamill told IGN. "Which is another thread that was never played upon [in The Last Jedi]."
Hamill didn't give any specifics about how Luke would die in Lucas' version, likely because they weren't entirely worked out. "George had an overall arc – if he didn't have all the details," Hamill said, "he had sort of an overall feel for where the [sequel trilogy was] going..." The actor then contrasted Lucas' approach with that taken for the new trilogy, which he described as a "relay race."
Hamill is still unsure of whether he'll return in Episode IX, saying, "No one's really talked to me about it." There's a chance that, like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Anakin Skywalker, he may appear as a Force ghost.
The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams returned in September to write and direct Episode IX following the departure of Colin Trevorrow. It's unknown how much of his original draft for the film Abrams will be able to use following director Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi, which departed significantly from Abrams' original vision, and the passing of Carrie Fisher.
Episode IX is set to arrive in theaters on December 20, 2019. The movie will star Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron.