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The Real Reason Tom Hardy's The Last Jedi Cameo Was Cut

The Star Wars franchise towers over pop culture, so it stands to reason that big names might want to get attached. While not necessarily appearing in major roles, so many have jumped at the chance for a walk-on that there's a massive list of cameos by recognizable industry names across the franchise. Beyond those already directly attached to Star Wars history like Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best, composer John Williams, and George Lucas himself, the nine films in the Skywalker Saga have featured well-known Hollywood talent like Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Sofia Coppola, Jodie Comer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding, and way too many Game of Thrones actors to count. 

Some have merely lent their voices to ghosts of Jedi past or to background droids, while others actually show their faces as live-action background characters. Stormtrooper cameos are particularly popular, and Mad Max and Venom star Tom Hardy was among the lucky guest players to earn some time underneath the iconic white helmets. In the summer of 2016, news broke that Hardy would appear in a minimal role in writer-director Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The following January, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Hardy was asked about his upcoming appearance, to which he responded in a playfully vague way. "I don't know if I can even say that," he said when asked the role. "Where did you hear that? ... Ah, the internet is a glorious web of deceit and misinformation, isn't it?"

Fans saw right through the actor, and many eagle-eyed audience members attempted to scope him out when the film was released in December 2017. However, none were successful in identifying him. As they later discovered, Johnson and company had ended up cutting Hardy's sequence. But why?

Tom Hardy's Stormtrooper may have been too funny for his own good

News of Hardy's cut cameo came with initial reports of The Last Jedi's deleted scenes. The snipped moment featured an exchange between Hardy's trooper and John Boyega's Finn while both stand in an elevator on the Supremacy, a First Order Mega Destroyer. Fans will remember seeing Finn, Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), and DJ (Benicio Del Toro) adjusting their First Order uniforms as they exit an elevator followed by stormtroopers, alongside BB-8 disguised as a trash can. They're undercover as First Order officers on a mission to deactivate the ship's tracking system. 

Around this mark in the film is when Hardy's cameo was slated to appear. The deleted scene features a group of stormtroopers boarding the elevator with Finn and the others, when one trooper recognizes his former fellow soldier. It's Hardy, who turns to Finn and gives him a "look" — as much as he can with his face concealed by a helmet — before the actor's voice is heard affirming that he recognizes Finn. He then congratulates Finn on a "promotion" with a butt smack. 

Up until Hardy's line, the moment is incredibly tense, with life-or-death stakes for our heroes. It's clear that, along with a few other funny sequences that landed on the cutting room floor, this one likely got tossed for its comedic tone. The film's editor Bob Ducsay also told Collider that they scrapped several Finn, Rose, and DJ scenes because the movie was weighted towards their adventure. "There's some really nice stuff in there, but we actually cut that stuff pretty early because it was very clear that that section of the movie was completely lopsided in favor of those three, and it just didn't support it. But it's good stuff," he said. 

Hardy's Star Wars cameo was cut, but it revealed a major plot point about Finn

In Rian Johnson's Blu-ray commentary for The Last Jedi's deleted scenes, the filmmaker expressed that during editing, he also chose to toss a lot of the intercutting between storylines (via /Film). Moments of levity like Hardy's cameo were good entertainment, but in the end, the scene slowed the pacing and even arguably distracted from the more critical and consistent tension of the entire mission. Still, the deleted sequence wasn't just for laughs — in fact, it confirmed two important things about Star Wars canon. 

It's often easy to forget that the people under the helmets aren't just mindless drones carrying out violent acts. In his cameo, Hardy can be heard in a southern accent directly identifying Finn before the congratulations and the playful smack. "I know who you are... FN 2187!" he says, before continuing, "I know I'm not supposed to initiate contact with officers, but I never took you for captain material." It implies he was familiar with Finn not just as a soldier but as a person. While much of viewers' familiarity with stormtroopers comes from shoot-outs and dramatic invasions, these are people who have relationships and feelings, and thus make choices about their involvement with the First Order.

More interestingly, it confirms that Finn's superiors didn't tell any of his fellow soldiers about his rebellion and escape in The Force Awakens. Hardy's trooper doesn't know Finn defected, which is the exact opposite of his reputation in the Resistance. That means Finn's higher-ups probably worked very hard to erase evidence that a trooper has gone AWOL. After all, it's harder to convince people to blindly follow you if they know they can choose another path. 

Because of this emotional and narrative duality, it's almost a shame it didn't make it into The Last Jedi's final cut.