It’s gone down in history as one of film’s greatest shock reveals: the twist in the second film of the original Star Wars trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back, where we learn that Darth Vader didn’t kill Luke Skywalker‘s dad – he is his dad.
It was such a massive secret that even the cast didn’t know about it until the film premiered. At least, most of the cast.
While everyone was issued scripts that had Obi-Wan Kenobi revealed as the true killer of Luke’s father, Mark Hamill, the enduringly good-natured bloke who plays Luke, was taken aside for a serious chat about the real plot.
As he told Graham Norton:
The idea of Alec Guinness being the real villain, I thought, ‘wow, what a spectacular twist’. The director … took me aside and he said, ‘I have to tell you something. I know it, George Lucas knows it and when I tell you, you’ll know it. But if it leaks, we’ll know it was you.’
And he handed me the piece of paper that said, ‘I am your father.’ I was shocked.
And then, of course, the poor bloke had to keep this bit of shocking news to himself. For an entire year and a half. He told Norton that the main way he did this was to absolutely not let Carrie Fisher in on the secret, which is both hilarious and tear-jerking (WE MISS YOU SPACE MUM).
I didn’t tell Carrie. She had no vault whatsoever. In fact Harrison and I would test her. If you really wanted to get something out fast, you’d ask Carrie to keep it out in her confidence and out it would go.
When it finally came time for the film’s premiere, most of the cast were as gobsmacked by the Darth Vader revelation as the punters. And this is where Harrison Ford comes in.
At the screening when that happened, Harrison turned to me and said, ‘Hey kid, you didn’t f**king tell me that’.
I apologise for the F-bomb, I only use it for historical accuracy.
There you have it. Harrison Ford cracked it at Mark Hamill for keeping the greatest secret in cinema history. We wouldn’t have it any other way.