With a film as highly anticipated and commercially huge as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it goes without saying that there was bound to be a large amount of revisions and deletions of original ideas during the production.
In some cases, characters and cameos were removed as part of post-production, left on the cutting room floor for possible release as part of a deleted scenes package on the DVD or Blu-ray. Other characters were considerably overhauled, with personality changes and plot arcs almost unrecognizable from their earliest conceptions.
Some scenes were cut entirely, either to prevent a needless drifting of the plot or to preserve a character’s personality and characterization from coming off as too significantly changed. In a few cases, early design concepts were just scrapped for one reason or another, some for the better and some for the worse.
Here are the 15 Ways Star Wars: The Last Jedi Was Almost Completely Different.
15. Finn originally witnessed Paige Tico’s death
Paige Tico’s heroic sacrifice at the beginning of The Last Jedi really gets the film going on a profoundly emotional path. However, in early versions of the film, it wasn’t rogue hotshot pilot Poe Dameron who would have witnessed her sacrifice, but Finn himself.
As Rian Johnson reveals in The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, however, this would have over-complicated Finn’s later relationship with Rose: “If Finn witnessed Paige’s death and didn’t know she was Rose’s sister that meant there would have to be a big scene after he found out.”
“If he did know Paige was Rose’s sister, there would either have to be a big ‘I saw your sister die’ scene, which I didn’t want to write and the movie would have come to a full stop to do, or he would be an a–hole because he would never tell her. So ultimately it felt really right as a set-up but I realized there was no wood to burn in terms of a pay-off,” he said.
14. Follically challenged foes
Character’s designs can change drastically on a movie to movie basis, especially in the world of Star Wars where there is usually a sizable passage of time between episodes.
As revealed by The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, two very prominent characters nearly had very shocking redesigns– redesigns that were so crazy that we couldn’t be more thankful that they were eventually scrapped.
Concept art featuring bald versions of both Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren were designed, with Luke in particular resembling something of an Avatar: The Last Airbender type of character.
13. Luke and Rey originally had a much nastier confrontation
It’s a crucial moment in The Last Jedi: Rey turns against Luke upon learning that he once considered murdering a young Ben Solo in his sleep. The confrontation that ensues is physical and ugly, violent and vulnerable and shocking.
It’s also arguably the moment when Luke is made human and flawed, and removed from the pedestal Rey – and fans everywhere – have put him on. However, according to Slash Film, in earlier versions of the script, this turning point confrontation could have been a whole lot more unflattering for Luke in particular.
In the script, “Rey is mad that Luke lied to her and she confronts him. He admits that he’s sorry, but that she ran so fast and he couldn’t stop her. Rey says that she thought they were in danger and tried to do something. Luke responds, seriously this time, that that’s exactly what the resistance needs – not some old husk of a failed religion.”
In it, “Rey cries, explaining that her real friends are really dying and ‘that old legend of Luke Skywalker that you hate so much, I believed in it.’ Luke is in shock. He realizes that he pushed her too far. Rey tells him she was wrong about believing in him and storms away.”
12. Finn and Poe would go to Canto Bight together
Certain groups of fans responded well to the brief glimpses of the friendship between Finn and Poe Dameron that were provided in The Force Awakens. Naturally, it would make sense for The Last Jedi to further explore and develop their friendship. According to the original plan for the film, the two nearly had a big plot together.
As revealed by Rian Johnson in The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Finn and Poe almost went to Canto Bight together.
However, the writer-director soon realized that this would be a narrative mistake: “Poe originally went on the journey with Finn to Canto Bight. And it was so boring. It was just these two dudes on an adventure. I knew something was wrong when I looked at their dialogue and realized that I could interchange any of their lines.”
11. Phasma had a much more active role in her final fight
No matter how sleek her design or how wonderful the casting of Game of Thrones‘ Gwendoline Christie may have been, Captain Phasma is unquestionably the sequel trilogy’s most useless character.
With roughly five minutes of screen time across two films, Phasma never really did much besides prove her own incompetence.
However, a sequence was filmed for The Last Jedi in which she at least got to go out with something resembling a blaze of glory: “A group of stormtroopers corner Finn and he tries to get them on his side, saying that they can join him and escape Phasma’s grasp, just like he has. Finn says that she’s really a coward who sold out the codes to Starkiller Base.
In it, “he pleads with the First Order squad to escape with him. The stormtroopers all look at each other…and in a moment borrowed from a Sergio Leone western, Phasma pulls out her blaster and guns down all six or seven stormtroopers herself before they have any time to react.”
10. Tom Hardy’s cut cameo as a Stormtrooper who recognized Finn
It was a cameo rumored from the very early days of The Last Jedi‘s filming schedule: Tom Hardy, everyone’s favorite roguish action hero and dog enthusiast extraordinaire, was reported to be appearing in a small role as a Stormtrooper.
But when the film came out, fans everywhere were puzzled as Hardy was nowhere to be found. As it turns out, the early reports regarding Hardy’s involvement were true, but his scene was ultimately cut as the film was trimmed down:
“Actor Tom Hardy originally had a cameo as a First Order stormtrooper… A group of stormtroopers get in the elevator and our heroes are nervous they are going to get caught. One of the stormtroopers slowly turns to Finn and gives him a look. Finn turns around in his Imperial officer uniform and asks him what his problem is. The stormtrooper, played by Hardy with a southern accent, says ‘I know who you are… FN 2187! Damn boy, I never took you for officer material!’”
9. Finn and Rose were dressed formally for Canto Bight
The Canto Bight adventure takes up a considerable part of The Last Jedi, finding Finn and Rose attempting to connect with a master code breaker, but ultimately succeeding in destroying much of the wealth and splendor on the casino planet instead.
The duo stand out in the glitz and glamor of Canto Bight from the very beginning, as they arrive like fish out of water in their standard issue Resistance outfits.
Originally, however, the idea of having the new partners blend in a whole lot more was considered: “While they never shot the sequence this way, the original costume tests for Finn and Rose in the sequence had them sneaking in using lavish tux and dress costumes as disguises. They decided to do away with the disguise, as they already had another moment in the film where the duo go undercover on a First Order ship.”
8. There was a beach party between the caretakers, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and the porgs
Celebrations aren’t exactly a new concept to the Star Wars universe. A New Hope ends with the famous medal ceremony, with Leia, Luke, and Han decked out in their finest before a cheering crowd. Return of the Jedi concludes with the celebration on Endor, with Ewoks yub nubbing and the whole group dancing and embracing.
Even the somber prequel trilogy manages to squeeze in some merry-making, as The Phantom Menace ends with a celebration of unity between the people of Naboo and the Gungan population. Originally, The Last Jedi would have followed in the footsteps of its celebratory predecessors.
But according to the report on the scene from Slash Film, it may have been a little too much of a tone shift for the film in a key serious moment: “[Rey] is surprised to learn that it’s not a raiding party [on the shores of Ahch-To], but an actual party, with caretakers celebrating and swinging glow sticks…The caretakers resume partying. Rey spots Chewbacca sitting at the party with a bunch of Porgs and R2-D2 (wearing a festive necklace). “Seriously?” Rey says to Chewie before storming out to find Luke.”
7. Finn revealed memories of his upbringing
The Last Jedi is a movie about moving on from the past by accepting it. Rey is forced to come to terms with the fact that her parents were nobodies, drunkards who sold her off for drinking money.
Luke grapples with his moment of weakness that led him to nearly kill his own nephew, creating Kylo Ren in the process. Rose struggles with the toxic wealth and abuse on display in the world of Canto Bight, as it reminds her of her impoverished upbringing on Hays Minor.
But even though we get Rose’s reflections on her childhood during that adventure, Finn’s recollections of his youth were lost in reshoots: “In the original scene, Rose’s story of her childhood was a bit tamer and Finn shared his backstory with her, revealing a further connection between the two characters – that they both had family members taken by the First Order. Most of the sequence was reshot.”
6. More romantic tension and jealousy between Finn and Rose
One of The Last Jedi‘s truly poignant moments comes in the film’s final battle on Crait, when Rose saves Finn from sacrificing himself.
After doing so, an emotional Rose tells an incredulous Finn, “I saved you, dummy. That’s how we’re going to win – not fighting what we hate, saving what we love.” And then, before she loses consciousness, she gives him a quick kiss, stressing one of the key romantic components of the film.
Earlier versions of Finn and Rose’s journey to Canto Bight would have stressed their future romantic connection even more clearly. In the original drafts, Rose would have criticized Finn for wasting his time “pining for Rey.” Finn would have become defensive at that, highlighting the fact that Rey was his friend and he was merely fighting to save her.
5. Holdo’s arc was significantly reworked to make her more sympathetic
Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo is one of the clear standout characters added to the Star Wars universe in The Last Jedi.
Exemplifying grace under pressure and regal elegance, Holdo also receives one of the entire saga’s most heroic deaths, which is preceded by a profoundly heartbreaking goodbye with her longtime friend Leia Organa as written by Carrie Fisher herself.
Prior to reshoots and ADR, Holdo was a far more polarizing character. By changing her character just enough in post-production, Holdo garnered much of the sympathy and allowed the film to cast a critical light on Poe Dameron’s reckless behavior.
As Slash Film explains, “Her character and story arc remain the same, but they made her character a little bit less abrasive so that audiences could come around to her character later in the film. If you watch some of the over-the-shoulder shots of her in the film, you can clearly see that her lips are not moving to her ADR’d dialogue.”
4. Dark sider Force ghosts were considered
Force ghosts have been a key element of the Star Wars saga since the original trilogy. The ghosts of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Anakin Skywalker have all appeared in one form or another over the course of the series, with Yoda notably resurfacing in The Last Jedi to offer some much needed counsel to a wayward Luke Skywalker.
However, what is notable about these characters is that they are all Force ghosts of light siders – even Anakin’s ghost, thanks to Lucas’s re-release, resembles Skywalker before he fell to the dark side.
3. Rose Tico almost didn’t exist
Since Johnson realized that a Finn-Poe journey wouldn’t work due to their similarity, he created Rose Tico. The bright-eyed, idealistic young mechanic Rose would provide a perfect foil to the questioning, listless Finn.
By pairing a devoted member of the Resistance with someone who wasn’t even sure he wanted to be there anymore, Johnson created a perfectly balanced dynamic in a film all about seeking balance.
Simply put, as Johnson once again explains in the art book for The Last Jedi, “I realized I had to come up with something else. Finn needing somebody else to go with who would actually challenge him and push him and contrast with him was where Rose came from.”
2. Lando was originally the master code breaker
Fans have long wondered whether Lando Calrissian would appear in the sequel trilogy. When asked in recent years, Billy Dee Williams has maintained that he would gladly take part.
As it turns out, the call nearly came for Williams to reprise the iconic character in The Last Jedi. As we previously reported, Rian Johnson considered bringing Lando back as part of the Canto Bight adventure – specifically, he thought about having Lando as DJ, the shifty code breaker Finn and Rose find.
However, as Johnson explains, there were some clear reasons as to why that couldn’t happen: “Believe me I thought about [bringing Lando back], believe me, I did, and it just wouldn’t work.”
“For reasons I can’t really talk about without getting into spoilers, Lando even in the position of any… just specific story reasons that he would not have worked, like in the capacity of the DJ part – Benicio’s part – there’s a reason that had to be a new character and couldn’t just be Lando,” he said.
1. Luke’s final, damning lesson to Rey: a Jedi doesn’t act in order to save people
Responses to Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi have been completely divided. Luke is clearly no longer the bright-eyed farmboy turned galactic hero we once knew. But it’s also important to remember that in the thirty years that have passed since then, Luke has aged, and learned, and wronged, and suffered for it.
A jaded Luke Skywalker was all a part of the original plan for the sequel trilogy, even from George Lucas’s earliest outlines for the films. But in the original version of the film, Luke could have appeared a whole lot more embittered.
According to Slash Film, Luke’s third and final lesson to Rey would have shown how detached from the Jedi mythos Luke had become: “Rey notices boats arriving at the island and there appears to be a big fire from where they’re landing. Luke tells her that it is a group of bandits who regularly come back to the island to plunder and kill the caretakers.”
“Rey is very concerned and wants to help them, but Luke tells her that if you help them now, the raiders will come back stronger and it will make things worse in the future. He asks Rey if she is always going to be here to protect them, saying that a true Jedi Knight would do nothing and would only act to maintain balance, even when people get hurt.”
Do you know any other ways in which The Last Jedi could have been totally different? Let us know in the comments!
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