I am referring to this scene (starting at the 0m37s mark) in Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

This seems like a very sophisticated prop glove, but there is significant visible depth to the "cavity".

How was this filmed?

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  • 21
    Are we absolutely certain the prosthetic hand is a prop? I've heard Mark Hamill is a method actor . . .
    – RobertF
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 16:37

2 Answers 2


You can see the original prop here. Note that the metal collar has slipped down slightly.

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The actor would sit under the table and reach up through a hole, then place their hand flat onto the table. The prop would then be slid into position flush against their hand, covering the hole and creating the illusion that it was their real arm.

enter image description here

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    Looking at the 2nd pic, it's entirely possible Mark was able to simply put his arm through the prop, like a gauntlet. I'm not discounting the "hole in the desk" option, since that was widely used, but rather offering another plausible theory. The opening looks really shallow in the first pic and simply raising the lip of the "skin" on the wrist end would give it depth from the filmed camera angle. Unfortunately, that skin is hidden on the side view so we can't really see if that's the case. Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 16:14
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    I wouldn't expect that his hand went through the cast as you propose @computercarguy - remember the arm is shown with moving parts and gears and stuff, that opening was probably the housing for all the mechanisms and mechanics used to operate the robot guts
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 17:35
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    All the GIFs and video clips I can see show actuators moving when his fingers move, which is different from the wires and resistors in the prop you have pictured. I wonder if that's a difference between the Original and Remastered versions? Is there another prop arm somewhere? Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 18:04
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    @computercarguy I suspect that (most of) the actual innards of the prop were damaged and/or discarded after filming, and the current innards were a crude attempt to recreate the look of the original for display purposes.
    – Buzz
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 19:38
  • All this time I thought it was a form of greenscreen. Welp, thanks.
    – Mast
    Commented Jul 21, 2019 at 11:27

If you look closely at the slope of the back of Mark Hamill's hand, you can see that it seems to turn a bit more toward the vertical as it approaches the metal clamp on his wrist. In fact, Hamill is reaching up through the table, with the heel of his hand pressed against the end of a a fake arm. Everything to the right of the metal clamp ring is a fake limb; the robotics are embedded in a completely fake lower arm segment. Notice how the texture of the actor's real skin on the hand and the fake skin above the clamp are quite different (although, in universe, that could be attributed to Luke's traumatic injury).

Hand prosthesis

Note that Hamill's upper body is never in the shot while the arm panel is open. After the droid 2-1B closes the panel, it immediately cuts to Hamill sitting down, with his arm free of the restraints. It is a really well done shot, and I remember when I first saw the movie as a young child, the coolness of seeing Luke's new hand almost helped me overcome my horror that they had not managed to rescue Han Solo at the end of the film.

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    @ElleFie to me the innards of the alleged prop shown don't look anything like what was visible in the movie shots. In the movie there are clearly lots of parallel linear actuators, whereas the photos above look massively jumbled and include lots of very obvious 20th century resistors and diodes. To me that prop looks fake.
    – Alnitak
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 13:57
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    @Alnitak - That prop is from the Lucasfilm Archives Tour
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 15:11
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    @Alnitak - Don't forget that it's quite elderly. Props are usually intended to last the length of time it takes to film them, so colours will have faded and the innards may well be one of several sets.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 15:13
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    Yea, looks like the prop has lost some parts. In the film screenshots you also see a row of red LEDs that aren't visible in the prop.
    – RobertF
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 16:30
  • 3
    Thanks for posting the clip - and now we all have to wait 3 whole years until we find out if Chewie & Lando find Han Solo! :-)
    – RobertF
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 16:36

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