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Star Wars' Favorite Fan Cast May Be One Skywalker's Only Hope

For years, Sebastian Stan has been a popular fan cast for the role of Luke Skywalker, with the actor even throwing his hat into the ring personally. His resemblance to Mark Hamill is hard to deny, and as a longstanding member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe roster, he's already proven himself a box-office talent at one of Disney's biggest franchises.

However, as the years have gone by since Stan's initial bid to play a young Luke Skywalker, the idea has become less and less likely. Disney instead opted for a digital Luke amalgam to appear on "The Mandalorian" and "The Book of Boba Fett," composed of Mark Hamill, a fill-in body double, CGI, and deepfake technology. The results have been polarizing, to say the least, with many fans criticizing the uncanny valley of it all. Re-creating a character in this way is incredibly expensive and time-consuming, and it still never looks quite right.

If Luke Skywalker is ever to have another leading role in "Star Wars," the part needs to be recast. No amount of computer-animated dark magic can re-create a proper performance, and certainly not one with stunts or deep emotional moments. Plus, doing a whole Luke movie or show with the current method would cost way too much time and money, and all Disney would have to show for it is the same half-human puppet-man performance. Although Hamill says "Star Wars" doesn't need Luke Skywalker anymore, he has vocally supported a recasting, and Sebastian Stan may still be the best choice.

Disney needs to start recasting classic characters if it wants Star Wars to survive

Ever since "Solo: A Star Wars Story," Disney has been terrified of recasting old key characters in the franchise. Never mind that Alden Ehrenreich does a perfectly fine job as Han, or that Donald Glover is downright fantastic as Lando Calrissian. All that mattered at the time was that some people didn't like it, and they made a big noise, and the movie fell short at the box office.

Disney's time with "Star Wars" — especially at the movies — has been defined by reactionary decision-making. "The Rise of Skywalker" and its blatant disregard for roughly half of "The Last Jedi" is a perfect example. Ever since "Solo," Disney has put its efforts into CGI re-creations of old characters rather than recastings. But that just isn't a sustainable model. As evidenced by behind-the-scenes features from Industrial Light & Magic, making just a few scenes with a deepfake Luke is incredibly labor-intensive. It hampers both production and the possibilities of the story, and it's a dangerous step down the ethically gross path of replacing human actors with machines. 

In the "Star Wars" Legends timeline, aka the old Expanded Universe, Luke is at the center of nearly every conflict after "Return of the Jedi." That includes the battle against Grand Admiral Thrawn, which is being brought back into canon by the upcoming "Ahsoka" show. Lucasfilm has had no issues recasting roles when transitioning between animation and live action, and it shouldn't be afraid of recasting Luke.

What a new Luke Skywalker actor could mean

Imagine if a new actor were to play Luke Skywalker. We could have real, honest, properly acted scenes of the young Jedi Master creating his new order. He and Ahsoka could have a proper heart-to-heart about Anakin, rather than the stilted conversation they share on "The Book of Boba Fett." But more than that, casting someone like Sebastian Stan in the role would open up entirely new narrative possibilities, including a potential return to the big screen.

Dave Filoni, one of the key creatives behind "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" and "Star Wars Rebels" and overall the vanguard of the modern franchise, is directing a theatrical film to close out the "Mandalorian" era. It will bring together characters from Din Djarin's journey, "Ahsoka," of which Filoni is the showrunner, "The Book of Boba Fett," and the upcoming live-action series "Skeleton Crew." And while story details have yet to be released, it would be weird for the movie to happen without Luke Skywalker.

"To me, a theatrical experience has to have a big idea – a monumental moment in the time period that changes what's happening," Filoni told Empire in May 2023. What could be more monumental than Luke returning to face off against Thrawn or some other galactic threat? We could finally get a Jedi Master Luke arc like the ones in the Expanded Universe, and it would reestablish how central he is to "Star Wars." But deepfakes aren't enough to make that happen. We need a recast. We need Sebastian Stan.