It’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens Blu-ray week. With the disc set going on sale Tuesday, Entertainment Weekly is featuring five days of new behind-the-scenes stories from director J.J. Abrams. Here’s the second installment…
EPISODE II – The Ashes of History
Despite multiple viewings, endless discussion, and micro-analysis of nearly every aspect of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there remain a few unanswered questions.
One of them: What was that table full of ashes where Kylo Ren rested his helmet?
The answer was delivered almost by happenstance when director J.J. Abrams was talking with Entertainment Weekly about deleted scenes from the film.
“Sometimes bits and pieces of one scene end up being something that you use in another scene that you didn’t expect,” Abrams explained in a recent interview. “That’s always kind of fun, when you realize that something you’ve shot actually has a use you didn’t expect.”
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Asked for an example, Abrams pointed to the scene in Starkiller Base where Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is interrogating Daisy Ridley’s Rey and finally takes off his mask. The moment where he puts his mask down into that table of ash was meant for an early sequence.
“The backstory is, that that table has the ashes of the enemies he’s killed,” Abrams says. “That moment was actually shot for, and meant to be used in, the scene where he was talking to the Vader mask.”
In other words, that table of ash was originally in Ren’s private quarters. And the fact that he incinerates and preserves the remains of his foes adds a new, eerie dimension to his Dark Side nostalgia — and hoarding tendencies.
It also means we almost saw Driver’s face much earlier in the film, when he stares into the molten mask of Vader and vows to finish what his grandfather started.
“He originally had his mask off the first time we shot that scene. Then we reshot it with his mask on, but we had that shot which I loved and thought was so cool of the mask being slammed down into that ash,” Abrams says. “So that shot was stolen from the scene that we had changed and put into the scene with Rey.”
In drafts of the script, Ren always removed his mask to show his face to Rey. The only difference was what he did with the helmet once it was off. (We can all relate to that awkard interrogation situation: Where do you place your terrifying black visor after revealing the unexpected humanity beneath?)
“He used to place his mask gingerly onto a piece of the set, which was incredibly unimpressive,” Abrams says with a laugh. “So this moment made it a much cooler beat.”
So, sadly no, that was not the litterbox of General Hux’s cat, Millicent.
Of course, the solution to one Star Wars question simply leads to new unresolved ones…
Just whose ashes are gathered atop that table?
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Part 1 of EW’s The Force Awakens Blu-ray week: The Phantom Reader — Mark Hamill’s surprise role in that famous table read.