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The Star Wars secret Mark Hamill was forced to keep for over a year

According to the one and only Luke Skywalker, Star Wars' biggest twist wasn't just a shocker for audiences — the revelation was kept a secret from most of The Empire Strikes Back's cast and crew, too. 

Everyone knows the scene. In a last-ditch move to convince Luke (Mark Hamill) to turn on his friends and the Rebellion, Darth Vader teases the Jedi, stating, "Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father." After Luke defiantly shouts that knowing Vader killed his father is "enough," the dark lord delivers the devastating truth bomb: "No, I am your father." 

It was a moment that defined a saga — and launched decades of memes and references. But recently, Mark Hamill revealed the truth behind the scene on Twitter after a fan pondered what the cast and crew's reaction was during filming. In response, Hamill said that the line that changed cinematic history was kept under wraps for around a year before The Empire Strikes Back finally hit screens. 

"The cast [and] crew first learned of [Vader's line] when they saw the finished film," Hamill tweeted. "When we shot it, Vader's line was 'You don't know the truth, Obi-Wan killed your father.'" 

Hamill went on to confirm that it was "[director] Irvin Kershner, George Lucas, and I" who knew that line would eventually be dubbed over with the real one. While the revelation was news to some fans, Hamill has told the story about his most "agonizing year" before. 

Hamill revealed the decoy line used to keep the secret

While Hamill knew about Vader before most people, Lucas didn't confirm on paper that the Star Wars big bad was Luke Skywalker's father until an April 1, 1978, second draft of The Empire Strikes Back, according to Lucasfilm creative art manager Phil Szostak (via Yahoo). 

Meanwhile, hardcore Star Wars fans that followed Hamill through The Last Jedi press junket back in 2017 first learned about the mind-blowing truth behind the line then. The cinematic legend recounted the exciting plot twist while paying a visit to The Graham Norton Show (via News.com.au). As it turns out, the line in the shooting script given to the cast and crew contained the decoy line "Obi-Wan killed your father" — and Hamill thought that was surprising enough. "The idea of Alec Guinness [Obi-Wan] being the real villain, I thought, 'Wow, what a spectacular twist,'" Hamill told Norton.

Hamill recalled that during filming, director Irvin Kershner pulled him off to the side and gave him the surprising news right there on set. "[Kirshner] 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,'" Hamill said. "And he handed me the piece of paper that said, 'I am your father.' I was shocked."

While keeping the secret from fans was hard enough, having to keep it from his co-stars Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo) proved to be its own challenge. During the premiere, Ford's response especially left an impression on Hamill, as he seemed less-than-thrilled with being kept in the dark. 

"At the screening when that happened, Harrison turned to me and said, 'Hey kid, you didn't f***ing tell me that,'" Hamill said. "I apologize for the F-bomb, I only use it for historical accuracy."

Hamill had to be especially careful not to let the secret slip around Carrie Fisher.

Hamill had to keep the secret for over a year before the film officially debuted on May 21, 1980. It was a difficult challenge, but there was one co-star he had to be extra careful not to let it slip around. "I didn't tell Carrie [Fisher]," Hamill told Norton. "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 in her confidence and out it would go."

While that revelation was shocking, Luke's fate in the trilogy's final battle was also a source of astonishment for Hamill. In an interview with SiriusXM's EW Live station, Hamill noted that he expected Luke to choose the dark side like his father had. When he found out his character had taken a different path, it actually felt a little disappointing.

"I remember complaining to George [Lucas] about something in Revenge of the Jedi [the working title for Return of the Jedi]," he recalled. "I said, 'It's so predictable and pat.' And he said, 'Mark, don't forget. These things were made for children.' His original intention was to make movies for, you know, kids, adolescents, and younger."

Luke may not have turned into the sinister Sith Hamill was hoping for, but he still played an unforgettable role in one of the greatest movie plot twists — and lines — of all time.