[Editor’s note: Spoilers for “The Last Jedi” follow.]
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” begins with the possibility of several touching reunions occurring over the next 152 minutes: Rey and Finn, Finn and Poe, Kylo Ren and Leia, Kylo Ren and Rey. But no reunion carries an emotional wallop quite like the moment Luke and Leia finally reunite for the first time since “Return of the Jedi.”
The scene occurs late in the film during the middle of the climactic battle between the Resistance and the First Order on the mineral planet of Crait. Luke appears inside the Resistance base and has a brief and incredibly touching scene with his sister, made all the more emotional since it represents the first time Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher have been on screen together in 34 years and the last time they ever will be.
Leia cuts the tension between them by joking that she has changed her hair, a line Fisher wrote herself. The two then mourn the loss of Han Solo, with Luke even giving Leia Solo’s pair of dice that were hanging in the Millennium Falcon. “No one’s ever really gone,” Luke says as Leia looks down at the dice. He kisses her on the forehead and prepares to march out of the base to face Kylo Ren.
“It’s bizarre because, you know, obviously we didn’t know that it was gonna be a farewell scene,” Johnson told The Daily Beast about directing the emotionally-charged reunion scene. “And it’s odd because I remember when we were shooting the Luke-Leia scene, it felt like church on set. It was usually a jovial set, you know, a really happy, bouncy set. And that day, everyone was just quiet and just watching these two.”
“It was like a hush over the whole set,” he said. “It really did feel like church. I remember there being a weight to the whole thing and we all just felt like, we’re seeing something really special happen. In a way that it never, ever was on the set for us. There was, very weirdly, weight.”
Johnson has had to watch the film numerous times since Fisher’s passing, and he calls the experience “very complicated.”
“God, I feel lucky, you know? I feel lucky to have this performance from her, I feel lucky we had those moments with her,” Johnson said. “I feel so lucky that her last moments in the movie, which are at the very end of the movie, are words of hope given to Rey, given to us. Yeah. God. I wish she was here to see it.”
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is now playing in theaters nationwide.