For fans, there is no fact too small about the making of a Star Wars movie. Now, two months removed from the release of The Force Awakens, it’s time to start mining the record-setting film for all the nitty-gritty details that didn’t come out during its initial globe-spanning media tour.
Today’s generous provider of tiny Star Wars details is Julian Smirke, a Bad Robot vet who worked as an associate editor on The Force Awakens. Smirke sat down for a wide-ranging conversation with uber-fan Steele Saunders on the podcast Steele Wars, during which he provided insight into the making of the film. In particular, he debunked one particularly wild fan theory: That Han Solo turned on Kylo Ren’s lightsaber during their showdown on the bridge inside the Starkiller Base, and in doing so, essentially committed suicide.
“That’s crazy,” Smirke said, having just heard that particular theory for the first time. “There was no intention to do that. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Well, that settles that.
At one point, J.J. Abrams and Co. did intend for Maz Kanata, the motion capture space pirate played by Lupita Nyong'o, to have Jedi-esque powers. This wasn’t entirely news — the film’s VFX supervisor said something similar in January — but Smirke did drop a few new details.
“We went that way at some point, there was a version where she had Force powers,” Smirke said. “And the table scene in Maz’s castle bar was quite a lot different initially. She was talking about the history of the Jedi and the Dark Side of The Force. That was back when we had her having Force powers. Then J.J. decided to go a different way with her.
Even without apparent Force powers, Maz plays a big part in Rey’s introduction to The Force, as she’s with the young scavenger when she first touches Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. During that sequence, Rey has an alarming vision that includes flashbacks of traumatic moments in her life that hint at her connection to the Jedi religion. After the film’s release, EW quoted Abrams as saying that the scene features a fleeting whisper of Yoda’s voice. But while Frank Oz did come in to record some lines for The Force Awakens, Smirke says that the little green guy’s voice ended up being cut from the scene.
"We had versions of that, which, I don’t know if they’re going to see the light of day on extras,” he said. “Ultimately it came back around to, what are we saying here? It really needs to be through Rey’s eyes and really focused and honed in on her past, present and future… We played around with things, with Yoda’s voice, we had Frank Oz come in and he recorded some lines that were very specific to our film, which we ultimately didn’t end up using.”
To hear more from the interview, including Smirke’s explanation of how R2-D2’s role in the film changed over time, click over to Steele Wars.