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By now, Star Wars fans likely know that legendary composer John Williams appears in a cameo shot in J.J. Abrams’ saga-ending Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. It’s a terrific tip of the hat to an iconic composer who contributed just as much to the series’ success as any director, writer or cast member. Without exaggeration, Williams’ score is a character in the Star Wars legacy… and Williams’ legacy, as it turns out, made it into the scene.
During the latest ReelBlend episode, Debs Paterson spoke with the hosts about her documentary The Skywalker Legacy, which is included as a supplemental feature on the Rise of Skywalker Blu-ray and DVD. And when she talked about being on the set the day that John Williams filmed the cameo, Debs revealed that there are 51 Easter Eggs included in the production design of the scene – one for every Oscar nomination that Williams had received. She told us:
The John Williams thing was incredible. And I’d been tracking that for some seven months or something. Rosemary Brandenburg, who I love, talked us through all of the different [references]. She talks us through all 51 of the tributes that they did. … I emailed her the other day actually to say, ‘Look, you have to do a full list. The internet would love you for doing full list.’
That would be insane. Because for the moment, the only footage we have is IN Paterson’s documentary, where J.J. Abrams is telling John Williams about the tribute. The composer seems incredibly impressed. Can you imagine? 51 Oscar nominations, for one man? Actually, it’s 52 now, as the composer also ended up being nominated for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, though he lost to Hildur Guðnadóttir, composer for Joker.
It’s remarkable that Debs Paterson was able to get that footage for her documentary, as it is, because everything in Star Wars world is cloaked in secrecy. As she tells the ReelBlend guys:
So basically they’d made all the tributes during the shoot, and then shipped them over to L.A. and then recreated the little bar area in the backlot of Bad Robot. So basically, that happened as a little piece during the edit. And it was, again, it was all so secretive. But I, like, I had my people by that point to say when it was going to be [filmed]. So I made sure I was there to film it. And then after, J.J. was like, ‘I don't know how you knew that was happening, but thank you so much for getting it!’
Want to hear the full interview? It’s part of the latest episode of ReelBlend:
Meanwhile, you can get a copy of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker today!