Lawyer Luke Skywalker toils in shadow of movie icon

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Luke Skywalker battles the bad guys, just like his fictional namesake.

But that’s where the similarities end between the assistant Wayne County prosecutor and the star of the “Star Wars” blockbuster movies.

The Metro Detroit Luke Skywalker says he was struck by the movie character’s philosophy on life, prompting him to legally change his name in 1978.

“You should do what is right regardless of the odds,” said Skywalker, who works in the warrants division for the Prosecutor’s Office.

Skywalker, a 61-year-old assistant Wayne County prosecutor, took on the new name after seeing the original “Star Wars” movie at the old Americana Theater on Greenfield Road in Southfield.

Given the cinematic Luke Skywalker’s altruistic bent, the mother of the Wayne County Luke Skywalker wasn’t thrilled with her son’s decision to drop his birth name, Stephen Peters, for that of the popular movie character.

“She’s kind of forgiven it now,” Skywalker said.

Skywalker admits to being “low key” now about his choice, but says he has no regrets about it 37 years later. Because he changed his name legally, his wife and son also carry the Skywalker surname.

“It wasn’t so much for the publicity but the philosophical statement I was making,” he said.

The fan favorite in the movies is raised as a farm boy to become one of the greatest Jedi, a mystical knight trained to preserve peace and justice in the galaxy.

Skywalker is the name of about 25 people in the United States, including two Michigan men, who have legally adopted the name of the “Star Wars” character.

The name change drew curious glances but also scored him some points with young defendants he prosecuted in the Wayne County Juvenile Court when he began his career with the Prosecutor’s Office in 1982.

“A lot of little kids looked at me with their mouths open,” Skywalker recalled. He gets less of a reaction nowadays.

“Some people are interested. Some people are unresponsive,” Skywalker said.

Local attorney Jeremy Brand, a longtime friend and colleague of Skywalker’s, said he also was impressed by Skywalker’s name when he met him during the 1980s when the two practiced at the juvenile court.

“It’s cool,” Brand said. “Nobody else had (the name). He’s a trendsetter.”

Brand said that while others might raise their eyebrows over Skywalker’s decision to change his name, his friend is a very smart man.

“He’s a genius,” he said. “He is a great lawyer. Don’t ever question that.”

Skywalker says he did get a mention about having the famous name from Princess Leia herself, actress Carrie Fisher, during a promotional tour for the trilogy some years ago.

While you won’t find any version of the Skywalker uniform or a light saber in Skywalker’s desk drawer, he does have a pair of Yoda cookies he received for his most recent birthday. He otherwise has a quiet pride about being such a fan of the movie and the Jedi. He also has an original movie poster he received from the distributor.

Skywalker had not planned to flock to the theaters with other devotees last weekend to catch the latest episode, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

“I’m kind of low key,” he said. “I’m going to go when it’s not so crowded.”

(313) 222-2027