The Last Jedi still has some things left to reveal to Star Wars fans.
There will be 14 deleted scenes released as part of the home entertainment rollout for the film, some of them curiosities, others adding new layers to the characters and their motivations.
EW has an exclusive preview of that footage, as well as an interview with writer-director Rian Johnson in advance of the film’s download release on March 13 (available in both HD and 4K Ultra HD, and by way of Disney’s Movies Anywhere app) and its March 27 Blu-ray debut.
Here’s a rundown of five of the deleted scenes we’re exploring:
- BB-8 Reveals Rey’s Goodbye
- Rey and the Raiders of the Caretaker Village
- Luke In Mourning
- The Supremacy Infiltration
- A Different Phasma Showdown
“I love each one of the scenes individually. I mean, every single one of them was not cut because it didn’t work. It was cut because the movie as a whole was better without it,” Johnson tells us. “So with each one of them, it’s that strange combination where it feels awful to cut it, but it feels good to cut it, because suddenly the pacing of a section of the movie feels much better, or suddenly the film is cleaner, or clearer, in many different ways.”
We’ll also explore that mysterious “Third Lesson” Luke never got to deliver to Rey.
Keep an eye on BB-8, because the roly-poly droid is keeping an eye on you.
In another deleted scene from The Last Jedi, Finn is struggling with whether to abandon the Resistance.
That’s when BB-8 rolls up on him with a hologram of Rey saying an emotional goodbye to Finn while he lay unconscious in his recovery pod, gravely wounded by Kylo Ren’s lightsaber attack.
Originally, Johnson says the hologram was just a way to remind the audience of Rey and Finn’s friendship, since they spend most of the film separated.
“I was looking for any opportunity I could to emotionally connect those two,” the director says. “I thought it was a really sweet little scene. I loved John Boyega’s performance in it. Ultimately it was meant to explain his motivation for going [to find Rey and quit the Resistance], but we realized that you understood his motivation, because he tells it to Rose. Once we realized we could get away without it, it was something that just naturally fell away.”
It also shows the mischievous and somewhat unsettling personality of BB-8.
“Little sneak,” Johnson says. “You’ve got to watch what you’re saying around BB-8. It’s all on the record.”
The big loss was leaving out a good joke. “I miss John’s line, ‘That’s kind of creepy you recorded that.’”
Next Scene: Rey and the Raiders of the Caretaker Village
Those are a warring tribe, Skywalker tells her, here to raid the village. He watches impassively while Rey is itching to unleash her lightsaber.
But wait, Luke says, even if she did fight them and drive them away, they would just return in the weeks to come even angrier and fortified with more fighters. Would Rey still be here when that happened?
The Jedi would let this play out, he tells her. They would choose not to be involved, out of fear of making it worse. … So does she really want to be a Jedi?
Rey scrambles down the mountain and ignites the blue as she sprints across the shoreline. (This was a shot featured in the trailer, even though it was removed from the film.)
Luke is calling out to her, but she’s done listening to him.
Some fans may watch this and assume it was the mysterious “third lesson” that he never actually taught her, but Johnson says it’s not.
If anything, she learns she can’t fully trust him anymore.
“Originally it was just a breaking point for her. Okay, he’s gone too far,” Johnson says. “This is the point where she finally says, ‘Okay, if you’re not gonna help, then I’ve wasted too much time here.”
Johnson thought this division would be necessary to drive Rey toward Kylo Ren in their Force vision conversations.
“In her next-to-last Force connection she has with Kylo, which is the very intense one, the context for that was her coming off this rejection and angry moment with Luke,” Johnson says. “When we take that segment out, suddenly she’s coming into that Force connection after leaving things in a hopeful place with Luke, at the end of the temple lesson.”
Removing the raiders scene leads to a very different set-up, one that perhaps stings Luke even more.
“It’s much more of a crushing reversal when Luke finds her in the hut [talking to Kylo,]” Johnson says. “You get the sense that she and Luke were actually making progress, as opposed to, oh, things were screwed up.”
As for that unspoken “third lesson”…?
Johnson acknowledges it’s not directly addressed, but says there are things about the movie that fans can choose to interpret as his final instruction to Rey. But he hesitates to say more because this may (or may not) be something explored further in 2019’s Episode IX.
In other words, this may be J.J. Abrams’ problem now.
“Not problem, but possibility,” Johnson clarifies. “There are no problems, there’s only potential.”
Next scene: Luke In Mourning
We see Luke Skywalker, who has closed himself off from the Force, realizing Solo has been killed, but in one of The Last Jedi deleted scenes we witness the aftermath.
Luke goes to his stone hut alone and sits quietly, eyes welling with tears over the old friend he will never see again.
As he grieves, the film cuts to Leia Organa in a similar pose, far away. She is sitting beside a window on the Resistance starship Raddus, and the cut is meant to suggest she and her brother are sharing a moment of grief.
“It’s both of them having the connection, and that also then led you to think that Leia was thinking about Han’s death,” Johnson says. “It was a really lovely moment.”
It also allowed the film to shift focus back to the Resistance ship, but during the editing process Johnson decided it would be better to stay on the island.
“We realized just for pacing in that section we had to stick with Rey and Luke, and we wanted just to go straight from him slamming the door of the hut into the day-in-the-life montage, of him going around the island. Taking that bit out suddenly propelled us forward into that segment in a way that just felt much better for the film.”
The cost: deleting an emotional beat that would have connected not just with Leia, but with longtime Star Wars fans everywhere, still grieving the loss of the smuggler they’ve known all their lives.
“I was very sorry to lose it. I think it’s a beautiful performance from Mark Hamill,” Johnson says. “But I think that we get a similar beat with him, later when he’s in the Falcon with R2.”
Next scene: The Supremacy Infiltration
(There isn’t a shot from this new scene, but here’s a behind-the-scenes image.)
In the film, we saw them steal First Order uniforms to venture deeper into the heart of enemy territory, but in this extended sequence their journey gets upended when Finn is recognized by one especially garrulous Stormtrooper, who begins chatting with them in an elevator. He’s just sure he knows Finn from somewhere.
“Sneaking through the mega-destroyer, there’s some really fun stuff in there,” Johnson tells EW. “It just made me laugh every time I saw it. But you can see very obviously when you watch the movie as a whole, there’s no way you would want to slow down at that part of the film to play that whole section.”
The scene does reveal an interesting bit of lore, however.
After this Stormtrooper ultimately recognizes him, Finn realizes that the First Order has covered up his defection and role in helping the Resistance destroy Starkiller Base. Rather than sound the alarm, the good ‘ol boy trooper just has a hardy laugh that his old troopmate FN-2187 was promoted to officer status ahead of him.
“The implication from the exchange is that this was obviously an embarrassment that this happened with Finn, and that First Order didn’t let the info get out, as much as they could,” Johnson says. “The tension is broken by the fact that he doesn’t really know the story of what happened with Finn.”
Next scene: A Different Phasma Showdown
In fact, she’s so tough that she had to “die” twice in this sequence. The version in the final movie is the result of reshoots. (We don’t have an image from the deleted version, but here’s one from the finished sequence.)
Originally, Johnson had a different downfall for the chrome Stormtrooper. Rather than Finn finally gaining the upper hand on Phasma, she has him beaten — and surrounded by other Stormtroopers.
That’s when they begin talking. Finn unspools the story of her cowardice in The Force Awakens, turning over the shield codes to Starkiller Base to save her own life. The other Stormtroopers shuffle uneasily. They’re not sure it’s healthy to know any of this.
Phasma is showing something through the gash in her half-destroyed mask: fear.
Before the other Stormtroopers can react, she does a quick-draw on each of them, blowing away her fellow soldiers. Then as she and Finn clash again, she is hit with a blast herself, hurled into the inferno of the crumbling hangar bay.
Why did he change it? “Pacing. Entirely pacing,” Johnson says.
It just took too long to play out. “I really like the little moment of Phasma being caught and getting called out by John, and that little game of chess that they have,” he says. “But we needed a much more condensed version of that scene, where essentially it’s the same outcome.”
Only in the original version, it seemed much more definite that Phasma was finished forever.
Now, we don’t quite know. As Luke tells Leia, “No one is ever really gone.”