It is hard to believe that it's been nearly a year since Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker came into theaters and completed the "Sequel Trilogy" and brought an end to the nine-part Skywalker Saga that started more than 40 years ago. And while J.J. Abrams' final Star Wars movie failed to impress longtime fans or critics, a lot went into the project as the following behind-the-scenes facts show.
Seriously, with practical props and effects being used to add a level of realism to the epic space opera, classic characters being brought for one final go, and a tearful goodbye to a certain princess-turned-general, there's a lot to unpack here. That being said, here are 12 behind-the-scenes facts about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker that every Star Wars fan should know.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker Had A Constant Barrage Of Script Rewrites
The Star Wars franchise has a long history of rewrites, so it only seems on brand to hear that The Rise of Skywalker underwent multiple revisions along the way before the movie finally hit theaters in December 2019. In the 2020 book The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker book (via Business Insider), Chris Terrio, who was brought on by J.J. Abrams to help punch up Michael Arndt's screenplay, compared the rewrites to a tide, stating that there was a new script every morning as the writing team came up with the perfect balance for the movie. Terrio also praised the production team for being able to be so flexible with the writers and make all the necessary adjustments to the world they were building.
Rey Originally Had A Connection To Obi-Wan Kenobi
The big reveal of Daisy Ridley's Rey's family connections in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was one of the most shocking moments of the modern trilogy, but according to remarks made by the actress herself during a September 2020 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Rey was once supposed to be connected to someone other than Emperor Palpatine. During the conversation, Ridley explained that at one point, there was the idea that Rey would be connected to Obi-Wan Kenobi. This was one of the major fan theories surrounding Rey's lineage before the big reveal, and honestly could have opened up a lot of doors, especially with the upcoming live-action Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney+ series.
None Of Colin Trevorrow's Original Idea For The Rise Of Skywalker Made It Into The Final Version
J.J. Abrams was initially only supposed to direct Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with Rian Johnson helming The Last Jedi and Colin Trevorrow taking over the final part of the trilogy with The Rise of Skywalker. Those plans changed, however, when the Jurassic World director left the project. One question that always comes up about Trevorrow's departure centers around how much of his script was used for the final movie. Well, according to comments made by screenwriter Chris Terrio during an interview with The Wrap, he and J.J. Abrams started from scratch and "worked from a blank page" when working on the movie. Terrio added that if any of the elements stuck around, they weren't aware of them. Trevorrow, however, still received a "story by" credit.
Oscar Isaac Came Up With The Idea Of Having Poe Dameron And Leia Say Goodbye
One of the strongest relationships is the one shared by Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), and so seeing the two saying their goodbyes shortly before Leia's death at in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker really hit home for a lot of fans. Well, that tender moment between the two allies who are often seen butting heads while still having respect for one another was Isaac's idea, as he revealed in movie's home release. According to the actor, the scene wasn't originally in the movie, but he thought that having a final moment between the two would add to his character, and J.J. Abrams agreed. It also gave us that great interaction between Dameron and Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), which set the second half of the movie into motion.
Billie Lourd Filled In For Carrie Fisher During Leia's Duel With Luke
Billie Lourd, the real-life daughter of the late Carrie Fisher, appeared in all three of the recent mainline Star Wars movies as Lieutenant Connix, but the actress also got to play a more meaningful role in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. During a conversation with Yahoo!, visual effects supervisor Patrick Tubach revealed that Lourd was the stand-in for Fisher during the flashback of the training sequence with Luke and Leia. What makes this moment even cooler for everyone is the fact that it was the only time in the entire saga where Leia wields a lightsaber.
It Didn't Take A Lot To Get J.J. Abrams To Convince Harrison Ford To Return For One More Scene
Han Solo's death at the hand of his son, Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was one of the most shocking and hard-to-watch deaths in the entire franchise, and so it was just as shocking to see him return as a ghost for the same son, now back to being Ben Solo near the end of The Rise of Skywalker. If you ever wondered how J.J. Abrams convinced Harrison Ford to return for the movie several years after his iconic character was killed off, you'll probably be surprised to hear that all the director had to do was say he thought it was a good idea, as Ford explained during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! earlier this year. Sometimes all you have to do is ask, it seems.
The Rise Of Skywalker Had Interesting Code Names For Its Secret Characters
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was a movie that was full of twists, turns, and multiple surprises that even though came off as fan service ended up being pretty freaking cool. Two of the biggest surprises — Han Solo and Emperor Palpatine — even had their own code names, according to screenwriter Chris Terrio, who revealed the names and their meanings with GQ:
I don't know what I like more — the code names or Chris Terrio and J.J. Abrams' reason for calling Han Solo "The Janitor."
Even Ian McDiarmid Was Surprised About Palpatine's Return
The return of a grotesque Emperor Palpatine who looked like he wasn't having a good past few decades was without a doubt one of the most shocking returns of the new Star Wars trilogy, but no one was more surprised than the Sith lord's actor, Ian McDiarmid, who revealed during an interview with Digital Spy that he was convinced that his duties were over after Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith wrapped more than 15 years ago. In the interview, McDiarmid explained that playing a young Sheev Palpatine in the prequels was one thing, but he, like everyone else not named J.J. Abrams, thought the chancellor-turned-emperor was dead and gone.
Adam Driver Performed All Of His Own Stunts
The young faces of the new Star Wars trilogy have become international stars since the release of The Force Awakens in 2015, but none have reached the heights attained by Adam Driver, whose performance as Kylo Ren/Ben Solo is really something to behold. What makes Driver's take on the conflicted Ren in Rise of the Skywalker that much better is the fact that he insisted on doing all of his own stunts, even though stunt coordinator Eunice Huthart wasn't originally up to the idea. In an interview with IGN, Huthart explained that Driver proved her wrong after going through extensive training and actually being able to perform every single physical shot in the movie, which is impressive considering everything he goes through.
Crew Members Physically Shook The Crafts Used In The Epic Sand Chase Scene
One of the most exciting action sequences in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the epic sand chase on Pasaana in the early goings of the movie. It was featured heavily in the trailers and sneak peaks at the final product, but how J.J. Abrams and company pulled off the shot, makes it all the more impressive. In a behind-the-scenes video released by Entertainment Weekly after the release of the 2019 film, you can clearly see crew members standing around the craft moving and shaking it while giant fans blew the actors' clothes and hair around. All this, combined with some visual effects in post production made it seem like Poe and Finn were all driving through those valleys and cannons at high rates.
Joonas Suotamo Had To Wear Heels To Match Peter Mayhew's Height When Playing Chewbacca
Joonas Suotamo, who took over the role of Chewbacca starting with Star Wars: The Force Awakens (he shared the performance with the late great Peter Mayhew), revealed during a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter that he wore heels throughout production in order to be the same height as the wookiee. The Finish basketball star-turned-actor said that although the heels made it hard to walk at times, it wasn't enough of an issue to cause any problems. Suotamo added that whenever he was doing running scenes, he would not use the lifts.
Babu Frik Was Saved By Steven Spielberg
And then there's the fun little story about how one of the most celebrated filmmakers of all time (and an old friend of George Lucas) saved what is perhaps the cutest character in the Star Wars movies, Babu Frik. In an interview with Empire, The Rise of Skywalker's creature effects creative supervisor, Neal Scanlan revealed that there Frik was originally going to be on Kijimi when destroyed by one of the Star Destroyers, but when Steven Spielberg attended an early screening, he asked about the little droidsmith and his fate. After that, Babu Frik was saved and no one left the theater emotionally scarred.
That should be more than enough Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker behind the scenes facts to hold you over until the next theatrical release from a galaxy far, far away is released.
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Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop barking at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.