Where Is Luke Skywalker? Mark Hamill Has Let Slip His Theories on the Missing 'Star Wars' Hero

Director J.J. Abrams reassures that Luke is "a very important aspect of the story"

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. Photo: TM Lucasfilm Ltd.

The face of Star Wars‘ main hero has still not been seen in the trailers, TV spots, posters, toys or the magazine cover of PEOPLE’s special Star Wars issue.

So, where is Luke Skywalker?

Don’t worry, Mark Hamill is returning as Luke in Star Wars: The Force Awakens – and he couldn’t be happier about it.

“This was an unexpected thrill,” he told PEOPLE. “If they were up for it, I was up for it. And I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”

See exclusive photos, get a first look at new characters and learn more secrets from the cast and crew of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in PEOPLE’s Star Wars collector’s edition, on newsstands now. And for more exclusive Star Wars news, come back to PEOPLE.com every day until it hits theaters Dec. 18

Director J.J. Abrams also reassures that Luke is “a very important aspect of the story.” In fact, when Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy was coaxing Abrams to take on the Star Wars relaunch, she posed this question to hook him: “Who is Luke Skywalker?” “It struck me that there would be a young generation for whom Luke Skywalker might as well be an ancient myth,” Abrams says.

Hamill himself has added to the myth. At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con he said of Luke, “When you find out that the only woman you really fell head over heels with is your sister, it’s telling you something. I had a feeling I’d probably wind up like Sir Alec [Guinness, Obi-Wan Kenobi] in the first movie, living in some igloo out in the desert, with no human contact, just droids.”

And when Hamill was on an episode of the TV show Dinner for Five in 2005, seated coincidentally across from a rapt Abrams, he revealed he suggested to George Lucas that Luke should turn to the dark side in Return of the Jedi.

“As an actor, that would be more fun to play,” Hamill said. “I just thought that’s the way it was going, from when we finished [The Empire Strikes Back]. I figured that’s what will be the pivotal moment. I’ll have to come back, but it’ll be like I have Han Solo in my crosshairs and I’ll be about to kill him or about to kill the princess or about to kill somebody that we care about.”

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Whether any of those ideas made it into The Force Awakens script won’t be revealed until the movie hits theaters on Friday.

But Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote Episode VII with Abrams, as well as Episodes V and VI with Lucas, did tell PEOPLE that the original three stars – Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher – were included in the writing process.

“They had input,” Kasdan says, “and we were very cognizant of wanting them to be happy.”

As Hamill recently told Entertainment Weekly about keeping the fate of Luke secret, “The wait will soon be over.”

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