Before Luke Skywalker became the main protagonist of the original Star Wars trilogy, the character was actually named Luke Starkiller. The character played by Mark Hamill became one of the biggest figures within the epic sci-fi franchise first created by George Lucas in 1977. Here’s why Lucas felt the need to change Luke’s surname before Star Wars made its debut.
The Skywalker name is synonymous with Star Wars even for those not familiar with the franchise. Luke starred as the central figure of the original trilogy as he transformed from a moisture farmer on Tatooine to a Jedi Knight and a hero in the Rebel Alliance’s victory in the Galactic Civil War. He fit the archetype of a seemingly ordinary kid who was tasked with feeling the weight of the world, or in this case, the galaxy, on his shoulders. The focus on Luke and Leia’s father, Anakin Skywalker, in the prequel trilogies gave even more power to the surname.
It seemed only fitting that Luke returned in some capacity in the sequel trilogies and the final installment of the saga be titled, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The movie titles, as well as the saga, would have been much known as something much different if Lucas held on to the original Starkiller surname. When developing Star Wars in the 70s, Lucas referred to the protagonist as “Luke Starkiller” in the various drafts of his script. In fact, the character was referred to as Luke Starkiller a few months into production. Due to bad connotations with the name “Starkiller,” Lucas decided to change the surname to Skywalker.
The reason for Lucas making a big name change stemmed from the infamous cult leader, Charles Manson. The sadistic man and his followers were responsible for the deaths of nine people in late 1969, including the death of the up-and-coming actress, Sharon Tate. The Manson Family murders were still fresh on the mind of the public in the 70s and Lucas worried that the name “Starkiller” would draw connections to someone like Manson. He was indeed a “star killer” after being behind the murder of a promising movie star. To avoid any kind of negative connections to his protagonist, Lucas chose to change the name of his hero to Skywalker.
Considering Starkiller was still in use during the early months of production, a certain Star Wars scene had to be reshot. When Luke first met Leia in the first film, he proclaimed “I’m Luke Skywalker, I’m here to rescue you!” but in the original scene, he referred to himself as “Luke Starkiller.” Hamill has been outspoken about liking the name Starkiller more than Skywalker. The name would get reused for the main character of The Force Unleashed videogames, but got its most famous rebirth 40 years after the introduction of the iconic figure, when director J.J. Abrams honored Hamill’s character by naming the First Order’s superweapon, Starkiller Base, in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as a nod to the original surname.
NEXT: The Original Story Of Luke Skywalker’s Sister (Before It Was Retconned To Be Leia)