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We Shouldn’t Be Celebrating Deepfake Luke Skywalker

If Obi-Wan Kenobi wasn’t reimagined, we would’ve never got Ewan McGregor. He’s made the character his own across the prequels, becoming a fan favourite as he’s set to headline his own Disney+ show, all things achieved away from the legacy of Alec Guinness. Despite this success, we still can’t move on from Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. Do we really need soulless, dead eyes from a CGI mask with a Siri-like voice plastered on top? Call me a humbug, but if this is the future of TV and film, it’s dystopian.

Dredging Peter Cushing back up from the dead to puppeteer Tarkin was eerie enough, but the technology has come so far that it’s near-seamless. So people are beginning to accept it. There are already calls for Leia, Han, and Luke to have a reunion, even in spite of Carrie Fisher’s death. These characters are becoming less about the performances of the actors who play them and more about likeness – there’s no soul in Luke’s performance in The Book of Boba Fett. He’s monotone, static, and flat. Recasting would fix that, but Disney won’t because fans are content with blocks of wood masquerading as jangling keys.

A CGI character, a mask that makes them look exactly like they did in the ‘80s, is a bit weird. But it’s not terrible. It’s akin to an animated show like the Clone Wars bringing back Count Dooku with Christopher Lee’s likeness. But slapping a fake, robotic voice on top that’s fed an algorithm of Lee reading audiobooks would be a bit much. There are already talented actors who have portrayed young Luke Skywalker in games like Battlefront 2, ones who could easily reprise the role and give it their own flair. There’d be more humanity to the performance, more range, more depth. We’d connect to the character more because it would be human. Just look at Mat Lucas’ Anakin.

Luke wasn’t at all engaging in the latest episode. He wasn’t fun to watch based on his own merits. A lot of what made Luke so captivating or interesting was the fan-service for fan-service’s sake. Oh my god, we saw Luke with Ahsoka! Oh, it’s Luke and Grogu re-enacting the Luke and Yoda scenes from Empire Strikes Back! It’s shallow, meaningless fluff that banks on nostalgia, adding nothing to the series or Luke’s character. It’s pointless but, if the reaction is anything to go by, people will continue to eat it up.

That’s terrifying. Roles for other actors are being shirked and it presents a new problem that could grow if this becomes more commonplace – why hire actors for Star Wars games and shows when you can get an AI to do the work? Hell, what’s stopping them from dredging up dead actors and putting them into other games, like having Marlon Brando in GTA 6. It sounds ridiculous, like it’s a joke that’s not even remotely possible, but we’re watching that happen in real-time. Mark Hamill, one of the most talented voice actors working today, is still alive and wasn’t hired to voice himself!

Disney is setting a slippery slope of a precedent, one that pushes away actual actors in favour of hollow recreations. And it doesn’t even make sense in the context of Star Wars, a series that has re-cast fan favourites like Lando, Han Solo, Obi-Wan, Darth Vader, and even Boba Fett himself. There’s no need for Luke to be Mark Hamill, especially when there are so many other brilliant actors working today who could make the role their own. But acting is being shirked for algorithms and code, a cold and calculated future that is sucking the life out of the medium, and audiences are lapping it up. I feel like I’m being stabbed in the leg with those dangling shiny keys, not mesmerised by them.

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