In December 2015, the dreams of many fans came true with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The first true sequel (as opposed to a prequel) since 1983’s Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens was about the clash between the reborn Empire in the form of the First Order and a new Resistance. Filled with new planets, aliens and characters, The Force Awakens was critically acclaimed and also broke box office records, bringing a new wave of fans to the franchise. However, the journey to making the movie was far from smooth. There are a lot of dark secrets going on behind that film and CBR is here to shed some light on it.
You may think you know everything about the movie, but we’re here to teach you something new. We’re going to be talking about scenes that were cut out or characters that were added or removed. Some of the actors had major problems, and there were also a few secrets that you wouldn’t know just from watching the movie. With Star Wars: The Last Jedi hitting theaters in December 2015, CBR is going to run down 15 of the juiciest secrets behind The Force Awakens.
15. GEORGE LUCAS WAS IGNORED
For over 30 years, George Lucas had been thinking about movies set after Return of the Jedi. After Revenge of the Sith, he announced that there would be no more sequels, but after the sale of Lucasarts to Disney, Lucas revealed that he had been planning more movies. He’d even approached Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford to reprise their roles. In the actual movie, though, he was shut out.
Lucas gave his notes to the studio for his new trilogy, which would have been about the rise of the New Republic with the teenage children of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo as main characters. Screenwriter Michael Arndt even wrote a script based on them, but the studio chose a new script based on J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan’s ideas. Lucas wasn’t happy, comparing watching The Force Awakens to attending your ex-wife’s wedding.
14. FORD WAS ALMOST KILLED
In June 2014, all of Star Wars fandom let out a collective cry of horror when the news broke that Harrison Ford was injured on the set of The Force Awakens. At the time, a press release came out saying Ford had broken his ankle, and he returned to work so it seemed like just a minor accident.
It turned out that the hydraulic door of the Millennium Falcon accidentally came down on his left hip and pinned him to the floor with the weight of a small car. The only reason Ford wasn’t crushed to death is that someone hit an emergency stop button. J.J. Abrams injured his own back trying to lift the door off Ford, and the actor suffered a broken left leg. The company Foodles Production paid hefty fines for the accident.
13. POE DAMERON DIED
The Force Awakens introduced a new dashing hero for the Star Wars series, hotshot X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron. Dameron was charged with finding a piece of the map to Luke Skywalker’s location. He also brought a sort of “Han Solo” flair to the new movie, and also was key to introducing FN-2187 (immediately nicknamed by Poe as “Finn”) to freedom and into the Resistance.
The friendship between Poe and Finn has become one of the most popular (and speculated) new relationships in the new movie, so it’s hard to imagine it coming to an end, but it did. In the original script, Poe was killed right when we all thought he was killed: in the crash after landing on Jakku. After seeing actor Oscar Isaac’s disappointment at being just a cameo, Abrams rewrote the script to keep him alive.
12. C-3PO’S RED ARM
In The Force Awakens, we saw a lot of familiar faces, one of which was the robot C-3PO. You might not have recognized him with the red arm, at least by his thinking. C-3PO had spent most of the original trilogy as a solid gold color, but the new colored arm was a big change and not one that even the actor Anthony Daniels agreed with.
There is a reason for the red arm which is revealed in the tie-in media surrounding the film. In the one-shot comic Star Wars Special: C-3PO #1: The Phantom Limb (James Robinson, Tony Harris), we found that C-3PO was one of a group of droids trying to get the location of Admiral Ackbar to the Resistance. One red droid risked its life to save C-3PO, so C-3PO had its red arm attached to remember it by.
11. SNOKE WAS ALMOST A WOMAN
One of the most mysterious characters in The Force Awakens was Supreme Leader Snoke. While little is known about Snoke and where he came from, his appearance came late in the game. Andy Serkis did the motion capture for Snoke and usually he has a pretty good idea of what the character is going to be. That changed on The Force Awakens.
Even while he was doing motion capture for the character, he didn’t know what Snoke would look or sound like. J.J. Abrams was still developing the voice and mannerisms because he wanted to avoid copying the Emperor. At one point, Abrams even decided to make Snoke a woman. The female Snoke was developed all the way up to sculpting a full-sized version until the decision was made to go with an older and physically scarred male version.
10. THE OTHER CHEWBACCA
Since 1977’s Star Wars, Chewbacca has been a beloved part of the franchise, and he’s always been performed by Peter Mayhew. The legendary actor created his own movements for the character by studying animals and made Chewbacca a part of him. Though he’s gotten older, fans rejoiced when it was announced he was returning to the character.
Yet the truth is that not all of Chewbacca’s scenes in The Force Awakens were performed by Mayhew. These days, the 7’2″ Mayhew needs a cane to walk, so he spent months training 6’11”-inch actor Joonas Suotamo to take his place. Lucasfilm hasn’t revealed which scenes Suotamo was in, but it seems like any scenes that involved Chewbacca walking or running around were done by Suotamo or Mayhew’s stuntman.
9. LUKE AND MAZ WERE CUT
In every movie, there are changes to the story as the script is being written, and some characters might be cut from the final film or cut short. That’s the case with Luke Skywalker and Maz Kanata. Luke Skywalker was the hero of the original trilogy and an icon in Star Wars, so audiences naturally expected to see him in The Force Awakens. That’s why audiences were surprised that we only saw his face on the screen at the very end and Luke had no lines.
In the script phase, Luke had more scenes but they were cut because the writers felt he took over the movie. Without him, the main characters remained the focus. Likewise, the sage bartender Maz Kanata was supposed to follow the cast along to the Resistance base but that was cut because Abrams thought she didn’t do anything useful except sit around.
8. HAN MUST DIE
Whenever anyone speculated about the original cast reuniting to appear in a new Star Wars movie, one name has always been a question mark: Harrison Ford. Ford has made no secret over the years about how he disliked George Lucas, the role of Han Solo or anything associated with Star Wars. That’s why he surprised everyone by agreeing to do The Force Awakens.
How did they do it? Was it the chance to reprise a classic role? Did he have a change of heart about the role? Was it the $25 million paycheck? Well, that last one is a possibility, but it seems that Harrison Ford only agreed to do The Force Awakens because he was promised Han Solo would be killed. That might not be too much of a surprise considering Ford allegedly asked Lucas to kill Han in the original trilogy.
7. NO LOGOS
In the minds of many Star Wars fans, the opening fanfare of the 20th Century Fox logo is as much a part of the movies as “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” That blast of trumpets has been a part of Star Wars since the first movie in 1977, but the movies are now under Disney. That’s why viewers of The Force Awakens might have noticed the opening seemed a bit shorter than usual with just the Lucasarts logo.
It’s also shorter because there’s a crucial logo missing: the Disney logo. As a Disney movie, The Force Awakens should have opened with the famous Disney mansion, but the studio agreed to leave its logo off the opening of the movie “for the fans.” It wouldn’t be Star Wars with Tinkerbell flying by.
6. NO VIDEO GAME
There’s a tradition with blockbuster movies, especially with Star Wars films, to release a video game tie-in. There have been multiple video games based on all the Star Wars movies, so some fans were surprised to see no official The Force Awakens video game. That was intentional because everyone involved agreed that movie-based video games usually suck.
The problem is always trying to develop a game and a movie at the same time, especially a movie like The Force Awakens that wasn’t even fully completed until weeks before the premiere, which would have left developers scrambling. Instead of releasing a full official game, it was decided to add content based on the new movie to existing Star Wars games like Star Wars: Battlefront and Disney Infinity.
5. KYLO REN’S ASHES
One of the pivotal moments in The Force Awakens came after the capture of Rey when she was held prisoner and interrogated by Kylo Ren. In the interrogation, Kylo removed his helmet for the first time so we could see his face and used his Force powers to try to extract information from Rey. When he removed his helmet, he slammed it down onto a table with a pit of ashes. Some viewers wondered what those ashes were. Well, the answer is not pretty.
J.J. Abrams later revealed that the table holds the ashes of people that Kylo Ren has killed. He literally took the burned up flesh of his enemies and made them into a hat-stand. The moment actually came from the scene earlier in his quarters but was moved to the interrogation scene for continuity.
4. CARRIE FISHER’S WORST DAY
Carrie Fisher once said that the worst day she ever spent on a set was her first day of shooting The Force Awakens. That sounds bad, but there’s a reason for it and it had nothing to do with her not wanting to do the movie. When she began shooting her scenes, it had been decades since she last portrayed Princess Leia and quite a few years since she’d acted on screen except for cameos and guest appearances in movies or TV shows.
The pressure and unfamiliarity made her so nervous that she blew a lot of her lines. According to her and Abrams, she ended the day in disappointment. Of course, things got better on the second day and she delivered a great performance. She was all set to reprise the character in the next two movies before her tragic death.
3. CARRIE FISHER WAS BULLIED
When Carrie Fisher was hired for The Force Awakens, the studio’s biggest concern was her weight. Fisher once joked in an interview, “They want to hire part of me, not all of me. So they want to hire about three-fourths…so I have to get rid of the fourth somehow.” They put her on a rigorous program of diet and exercise so she lost 35 pounds quickly.
Yet it wasn’t good enough. Some fans complained about how old she looked, which is really unfair to compare her at 59 to a twenty-year-old. Fisher was keenly aware of it because she posted on Twitter, “Please stop debating about whether or not [I] aged well. Unfortunately it hurts all 3 of my feelings.” She passed away shortly after the movie’s release, and some have speculated her rapid weight loss contributed to her heart attack.
2. PHASMA WAS A MAN
Captain Phasma caught a lot of attention with her chrome armor and imposing height. She was also a groundbreaking villain in The Force Awakens as a female baddie (played by Gwendoline Christie) in a universe dominated by men. That almost wasn’t the case, since she was originally meant to be a male.
In the original concept, Captain Phasma was still a stormtrooper captain of the First Order but the plan was to cast Benedict Cumberbatch in the role. However, just weeks before shooting was scheduled to begin, there was a backlash online over how few women were in the cast. To balance things out, Abrams and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan decided to switch Phasma from male to female and a new enemy was born. Even though she didn’t have much to do in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi promises to have more Phasma action.
1. THEY BEGGED J.J. ABRAMS
When the new movie was announced, there was no director attached to it. A lot of names were tossed around to direct the new film, but one of the most unlikely was J.J. Abrams. That’s because Abrams was directing and spearheading a reboot of the Star Trek franchise at the time. It seemed unlikely Abrams would do it, and he even came out and said so.
Yet Abrams made a lot of sense since – even while writing and directing Star Trek – he said publicly that he was more of a fan of Star Wars. Many Star Trek fans also complained that 2009’s Star Trek felt more like a Star Wars movie. That may be why Lucasarts president Kathleen Kennedy was so determined to get him. She went to Abrams’ office personally and spent a month in intense negotiations to bring him on board. We’re glad he did.
What did you think of The Force Awakens? Let us know in the comments!
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