Warning: This post includes a major spoiler for The Empire Strikes Back, a movie you may have already seen.
Last week The Empire Strikes Back turned 40. Mazel tov! There was much rejoicing over social media and in online publications, not the least from one of social media’s most popular figures, Mark Hamill. One would assume that a carcass as popular as the first Star Wars sequel would have been picked to death by now, all its secrets made public. But there’s still tiny trivia morsels to be had, as Hamill proved Sunday.
The cast & crew first learned of it when they saw the finished film. When we shot it, Vader's line was "You don't know the truth, Obi-Wan killed your father." Only Irvin Kershner, George Lucas & I knew what would be dubbed in later. Agony keeping that secret for over a year! 😩 https://t.co/DcB2lW8AhC
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) May 24, 2020
It’s long been well-known, of course, that the Empire Strikes Back top brass managed to keep its big twist a secret up until wide release through simple deceit: When shooting the climactic duel between Hamill’s Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, the major reveal was that Obi-Wan Kenobi had killed his father, not that his father was Vader himself. But we didn’t know that Hamill was one of only three people, along with George Lucas and director Irvin Kirshner, who knew the truth that early. And keeping stum about that, Hamill said, was “agony.”
Hamill only revealed this after a fan (with the handle “Mark Hamill fangirl,” as it were) tweeted that she “would’ve also liked to have seen the cast/crew’s reaction when they first heard about this epic plot twist.” For that matter, how did everyone react when Vader actor David Prowse blurted out that Alec Guinness’ kindly Obi-Wan was a papa killer? That’s a bombshell, too!