Star Wars (lost original "Luke Starkiller" scene of space opera film; 1977)

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Star wars a new hope poster.jpeg

The film's theatrical poster, with Luke Starkiller/Skywalker front & centre.

Status: Lost

Star Wars (retroactively titled Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope) is a 1977 space opera film starring Mark Hamill in the leading role of Luke Skywalker, a farm boy turned Jedi pilot who is ultimately responsible for destroying The Death Star at the end of the film. The character became an overnight sensation and his name iconic, but according to the original script he had a very different surname. A scene was filmed using the original name, but has not resurfaced since.


Four years before Star Wars: A New Hope released in 1977, George Lucas had written a 2-page film synopsis entitled "Journal of the Whills". This featured the training of a 'Bendu-Jedi' space commander named C.J. Thorpe by Mace Windy. Movie studio executives found the story too complex and confusing, whereupon an annoyed Lucas wrote a deliberately simplistic 14-page story treatment, "The Star Wars", that scrapped Thorpe and Windy in favour of General Luke Skywalker, who was tasked with rescuing a rebel princess from an evil empire. A year later Lucas adapted this version into a screenplay, which introduced the characters of Anakin Starkiller and his father Kane. The Luke Skywalker character was now described as a friend of the Starkiller family.

All three were however scrapped in Lucas' 2nd draft from 1975, in which a farmboy named Luke with no surname makes his first appearance. The draft also featured "The Skywalker", who was described as the protagonist and "The Starkiller", his enemy. Eventually, this all evolved into the familiar story of Luke the farmboy rescuing the rebel princess and destroying the Death Star, aided by Ben Kenobi and opposed by Kenobi's fallen student Darth Vader. The final draft - dated January 1st, 1976 - was in nearly all respects similar to the theatrical release, save that Luke's surname had evidently still not been finalized.

The Scene

In the finished film, upon finding the Princess Leia in her cell on the Death Star, actor Mark Hamill gives his character's full name for the first time, announcing that "I'm Luke Skywalker, I'm here to rescue you." According to Hamill, however, the script for the scene had him identify himself as "Luke Starkiller".[1] Lucas apparently changed the surname to Skywalker immediately on hearing the line spoken, as he disapproved of the negative connotations around "Starkiller" since Hamill was portraying the hero.


Unlike many Star Wars deleted scenes and outtakes, the "Starkiller" take has never been shown publicly, suggesting it was not preserved - plausible, considering that at the time it would have been only one botched take among many over the course of routine filming. If it was kept, it most likely resides in Disney's tape vault as part of the series' extensive library of extraneous material, since Disney bought the entire Star Wars franchise along with LucasArts in 2012.


Luke Skywalker behind-the-scenes history video.

See Also