All the New Things We Learned From Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker's Home Release

Finn, Rey, Poe and crew in The Rise of Skywalker.
Finn, Rey, Poe and crew in The Rise of Skywalker.
Photo: All Images (Lucasfilm)
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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is finally home. With its release early to digital this past weekend, and the Blu-ray coming on March 31, fans can finally watch all nine Star Wars Skywalker Saga movies in the comfort of their own home. And just in time too. We may all be staying home for a while.

The release includes the main theatrical film as well as a two-plus hour documentary called The Skywalker Legacy that takes fans behind the scenes. It’s absolutely excellent. Then there are about 45 extra minutes of featurettes on top of that as well as some digital and physical extras, depending on where you purchase it.

We’ve been through all of them, though, and below we’ll highlight the fascinating new tidbits and facts uncovered within. Check it out.

Leia footage was the key ingredient to The Rise of Skywalker.
Leia footage was the key ingredient to The Rise of Skywalker.
  • The most valuable resource director J.J. Abrams and his crew had on The Rise of Skywalker was footage of Carrie Fisher. Any and all Fisher scenes in the movie were written and built around footage shot during The Force Awakens.
  • Anthony Daniels hadn’t read the script when the cast did the first table read and was surprised when people kept coming up to tell him they loved C-3P0's expanded role.
  • Adam Driver had no problem telling people like the stunt coordinator Eunice Huthart (arguably the true star of the entire home release) whether or not he agreed with their ideas of Kylo Ren’s movement. He moved Kylo how he thought he’d move.
  • Driver did all of his own stunts.
  • During preparation for The Force Awakens, Abrams told Driver he wanted him to think of Kylo Ren as the opposite of Darth Vader. Over three movies, while Vader goes from confident to ultimately vulnerable, Ren would start vulnerable and built toward supremely confident, which is where he starts The Rise of Skywalker.
Hi Grandpa.
Hi Grandpa.
  • The planet Exegol was conceived as being the darkest place in the whole galaxy—an ancient location with statues and buildings that are so big, people look like ants by comparison. There’s also a brief mention that, maybe, Exegol is where the Sith started.
  • “Within 30 seconds” of someone mentioning the idea of the Emperor coming back, everyone knew it was the right idea.
  • Abrams called the scene from Revenge of the Sith where Palpatine tells Anakin about Darth Plagueis “the greatest set up of all-time” and was inspired by that to bring him back.
  • The reconstruction of Kylo Ren’s helmet was inspired by an ancient Japanese technique called Kintsugi where broken pottery is put back together using gold.
  • One of the First Order officers sitting at the meeting early in the film is played by Sally Guinness—the granddaughter of Obi-Wan Kenobi himself, Alec Guinness.
  • There was a line that Allegiant General Pryde had to deliver that Richard E. Grant simply couldn’t get, so Abrams allowed him to read it off an index card out of frame.
Have some Pryde, sir.
Have some Pryde, sir.
  • The Festival of the Ancestors 0n Pasaana was written into the movie so Rey could see joy—so she could see what she was fighting for.
  • Before filming in Jordan, which stood in for Pasaana, the crew had to show up months ahead of time to basically build a town that could feed and be comfortable for upwards of 1,500 cast and crew. They also had to ship in around 550 tons of equipment. Prep started in April and filming didn’t begin until October.
  • A whopping 450 extras were cast for the festival scene, who all had to learn a large scale choreographed dance.
  • The children at the puppet show at the festival were all puppets. The crew dug into the ground so puppeteers could work from below and each morning, people had to check for scorpions.
  • The Pasaana pursuit was shot on location in Jordan but in front of a green screen. Which seems weird, but apparently the desert lighting is difficult to recreate in a studio so it made the scene look better.
A very complex scene to film.
A very complex scene to film.
  • Pasaana has several mosture vaporators on the surface. They should look familiar—they were built based on the one in A New Hope.
  • The quicksand scene on Pasaana was real. Kind of. The “sand” was actually black beans, and the crew dug into the ground so they could build a complex underground system that lowered and raised all the actors. It was all practical.
  • The snake the heroes encounter underground was a full-size puppet that had multiple people inside to move it. However, the creature was totally replaced by CGI in the final film. The practical one was built only so the actors could react.
  • It took three days to film the Kylo Ren and Rey fight that takes place both on the ship, and the ground, on Kijimi. It was also the first fight filmed in the movie.
  • The Kijimi village was one of the biggest sets built for the movie, since it was completely immersive. Its design was directly influenced by the town and villages in Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, a key Star Wars inspiration for George Lucas.
  • Babu Frik’s droid repair shop is filled with Easter eggs from all sorts of Star Wars movies: a Battle Droid, Ralph McQuarrie C-3PO head, and even a Bad Robot, the mascot of Abrams’ production company.
Bad Robot is now Star Wars canon.
Bad Robot is now Star Wars canon.
  • John Williams’ cameo on Kijimi, as a bartender outside Babu Frik’s droid shop, was Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy’s idea. Williams was originally unsure about it but his wife convinced him.
  • In quite possibly the best Easter egg in the entire documentary, or maybe the Star Wars saga as a whole, every piece of seemingly random crap that populates the space where Williams’ character is standing represents one of the 51 films for which he’s been Oscar-nominated. Below are just a few of them...
  • Babu Frik’s animatronic was so intricate, it had 13 different movement systems in its head alone.
  • In most cases, voice talent is dubbed in after the fact. But actress Shirley Henderson did Babu Frik’s voice on set while also helping to operate the animatronic, which we previously reported on here.
  • When figuring out the logistics of having the Death Star remains on Kef Bir, they had to scale it to be about 90 miles across, just so that it would make visual sense.
  • Originally, when Rey and the crew went to the Death Star ruins on Kef Bir, the main piece they were going to find was the instantly recognizable Death Star dish, but Abrams thought that was too convenient.
  • There’s a full scene in the documentary of Abrams, Chris Terrio, and the prop department trying to figure out how exactly the Sith dagger would work in terms of the plot. Eventually, they settled on the hilt sliding out but you can tell even they knew it didn’t make a ton of sense.
  • To get the creepy sounds of the Death Star remains, the sound department recorded what it was like in a structure that was made completely out of shipping containers.
Building this set took a lot of care.
Building this set took a lot of care.
  • The production designers didn’t simply design the remains of the Emperor’s Throne room. They designed a clean, perfect version of the Throne Room, and proceeded to destroy it to make it authentic. For example, the throne itself “fell” from where we saw it in Return of the Jedi, down to where it was in the film.
  • Rey being a Palpatine was important because Abrams felt they needed to explain why she was so powerful so fast. (He said it, not me.)
  • The lightsaber battle on the Death Star ruins was shot in November (Adam Driver recalls it was his birthday, November 19) with actual, practical wave effects. That meant Daisy Ridley and Driver were very cold and wet and Ridley would get mad when water hit her when she wasn’t expecting.
  • It was Oscar Isaac’s idea for Poe to have a moment after Leia’s death where he admitted he was uncertain about how to lead. The scene was shot during reshoots.
  • Dennis Lawson, who plays Wedge Antilles, joked about how he hoped he would have a better outfit after being promoted but, alas, it was his same old orange jumpsuit.
Hamill and Abrams.
Hamill and Abrams.
  • John Williams obviously uses the same themes again and again in Star Wars movies, but it’s not his first choice. He doesn’t like repeating music note for note if he can help it. But he made an exception when Luke raises his X-Wing out of the water—it’s the exact same music as when Yoda did it in The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Yes, Warwick Davis reprises his role as Wicket the Ewok in The Rise of Skywalker (along with Davis’ son) but he also plays a second role, Resistance member Wizzich Mozzer.
  • You probably heard that Maz Kanata was primarily animatronic for the first time in The Rise of Skywalker. What you maybe didn’t know though is besides the woman (Claire Roi Harvey) who moves the body with a motion capture suit, a man (who goes unnamed) provides the on-set voice and controls the mouth. The voice of Lupita Nyong’o was ultimately added in later.
  • Though Rey looks happy when she sleds down the Tatooine homestead at the end, Daisy Ridley was actually terrified while performing the stunt.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is available on digital platforms now. The Blu-ray is out March 31.

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