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The Ending of Star Wars: The Force Awakens Changed at the Last Second

With Star Wars: The Last Jedi premiering in just a few short weeks on December 15, we’re being treated to major cover stories, timed to pique interest (as if we really needed it) right before the film takes over the world. These have appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Empire and Rolling Stone recently, and while the filmmakers and folks from Lucasfilm were careful not to let any spoilers spill, they offer a wealth of new information for those inclined to learn as much as they can before The Last Jedi hits theaters.

While there’s plenty of Last Jedi information to parse, what’s been interesting in the lead up to the film’s premiere is how much we’re learning about J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens. Considering Rian Johnson’s film is a continuation of that story, it makes sense that we’re finally learning more about just how Abrams and his team crafted their kick-off film, and what’s surprising is how one major element—the film’s ending—was changed at the last minute.

In an interview with Rolling Stone (via Slashfilm), Abrams spoke about how he was concerned about what Mark Hamill might think about the script for The Force Awakens, considering that although he’s one of the film’s driving forces, he’s only in the film in the very end, and he doesn’t have a single line of dialogue. “The last thing I wanted to do was insult a childhood hero, but I knew it was potentially one of the great drumrolls of all time.” Abrams said.

Yet Hamill recently told Empire that the ending in The Force Awakens was actually changed at the last minute. He’d already read Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi script, and he was concerned that The Force Awakens ending didn’t jibe with what Luke would be doing in The Last Jedi.

“There was something that happened at the end of The Force Awakens when I’m standing on the cliff. I called Rian in a panic because it was all wrong. He said, ‘It’s okay, I spoke to J.J. and he’s taking that scene out.’ It just didn’t match up with what Rian had written.”

So now the question becomes what was that moment on the cliff all about? What was Luke diong that needed to be changed in order to accommodate his character arc in The Last Jedi? As Slashfilm points out, it had already been reported that Johnson asked Abrams to have R2-D2 go with Rey to Ahch-to instead of BB-8. This would make sense for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which would be Luke’s connection to R2-D2. It also makes us wonder about this photo from The Last Jedi, and how it plays into Johnson’s request to have R2-D2 join Rey on her mission to find Luke.

The way The Force Awakens ended, with Rey and Luke on the rocky outcropping, and Rey extending Luke’s lightsaber, seems all but perfect. But if something was changed, as Hamill says it was with another scene, it would make sense that it has to do with how reluctant his character is in The Last Jedi to accept Rey’s offering, and to refuse to help her in the fight against the First Order and/or finding out who she really is. Did Luke light up his old weapon before they had to change it to the more somber, ambiguous ending? Did he say something (if so, what?) that had to be scrubbed? Did he toss the lightsaber off the cliff? The possibilities are endless, and while we’ll find out a lot in a few weeks when The Last Jedi hits theaters, this is one question that might go unanswered.

Unless you have an idea…

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The Credits is an online magazine that tells the story behind the story to celebrate our large and diverse creative community. Focusing on profiles of below-the-line filmmakers, The Credits celebrates the often uncelebrated individuals who are indispensable to the films and TV shows we love.

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