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J.J. Abrams directs Daisy Ridley in ‘The Force Awakens’ (Lucasfilm/Disney)
by Derrik J. Lang
J.J. Abrams never intended to guide Star Wars fans in the wrong direction.
The writer-director says — spoiler alert! — that while trailers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens feature footage and dialogue that didn’t ultimately end up in the final cut of the movie, the discrepancies weren’t meant to throw anyone off.
“It’s a fairly common occurrence when you’re working on a movie, and it’s a year or six months out,” said Abrams. “We were still editing, refining and adjusting the film. That evolution process is something that’s hard to predict.”
Related: ‘The Force Awakens’ Ultimate FAQ
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Abrams detailed his decisions (along with editors Mary Jo Markey and Maryann Brandon) on what footage landed in The Force Awakens and what was sent down the garbage chute.
CALL FROM LIGHT
Star Wars fans flipped their Stormtrooper helmets when a pair of beams flared out from the side of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)’s lightsaber in the first teaser trailer. However, The Force Awakens doesn’t actually feature the moment when the masked baddie ignites his flickering lightsaber hilt.
“There might be a look or scene in a trailer that identifies as being powerful in that short form, but sometimes that doesn’t jibe with what’s happening in the long form,” said Abrams. “There were a couple of shots that ended up not being used in the film, simply because we were doing our best to make the movie be the best version of itself, which sometimes means losing a moment here or there.”
IT’LL GUIDE YOU
In the second trailer, Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong'o) is seen passing a lightsaber to another woman. But it’s Finn (John Boyega) who takes it from her yellow hand in the movie. Abrams acknowledged that after Maz Kanata’s castle is leveled by the First Order, the big-eyed buccaneer originally traveled to the Resistance’s base to hand off Luke Skywalker’s signature weapon to his sister, Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher).
“It ended up being an unnecessary hot potato,” said Abrams. “It felt like the movie was stronger if we skipped over that moment. It definitely wasn’t meant to be diversionary. It was a scene in the movie I later realized I had put the entire crew through shooting, only to cut it.”
Star Wars fans shouldn’t expect an extended edition of The Force Awakens with such moments folded back into the narrative. Unlike his predecessor, Abrams isn’t interested in rereleases.
“I’m not a huge fan of director’s cuts and modifications to a movie,” he said. “I feel the movie that comes out is the movie that should be the intended final product.”
WHO TALKS FIRST
Mark Hamill delivered a new rendition on dialogue uttered by Luke Skywalker in 1983’s Return of the Jedi in the second trailer, although the chilling monologue isn’t included in The Force Awakens.
Watch the second ‘Force Awakens’ trailer with Luke voiceover:
In fact, Skywalker doesn’t spew a single word when on screen at the end of the movie. Abrams noted that the filmmakers never intended for the last Jedi to open his trap.
“There were all sorts of different ideas pitched over the past three years,” said Abrams. “When it became clear what this story was and where Episode VIII and Episode IX would go, the end of this movie was very much intended to be a cliffhanger. Obviously, the Luke storyline will continue in a very strong way, but it wasn’t material for this movie.”