‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’: J.J. Abrams Explains That Deleted Scene with Maz and the Lightsaber

     December 22, 2015

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Beware: Here lies spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The Star Wars: The Force Awakens marketing campaign was unique in that, through its various trailers and TV spots, it didn’t actually reveal too much footage from the film. This was especially surprising given the movie’s distributor, Disney, which has a habit of going into overload mode in the month before a movie’s release, putting anything and everything into the trailers and TV spots. In truth we actually did see a lot in those couple of trailers, we just didn’t put the puzzle pieces together until after we’d seen the film. But keen-eyed viewers have noticed that there are some pretty major shots in those trailers that don’t actually show up in the film.

Of course the most striking one is Kylo Ren igniting his lightsaber in the forest, just before his showdown with Finn and Rey. But the biggest shot that never made the movie has major repercussions for the structure of the film: the one in which Lupita Nyong’o’s character Maz Kanata hands Luke’s lightsaber to General Leia.


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Image via Lucasfilm

As the film is now, Rey stumbles upon Luke’s (and Anakin’s) old lightsaber locked in a literal mystery box at Maz Kanata’s palace, which then gives her visions and premonitions. Maz tries to give Rey the lightsaber, but Daisy Ridley’s character wants nothing to do with it and runs off. Maz then ultimately finds a taker in Finn, who then carries the lightsaber with him to the Resistance Base.

So yeah, at no point in the movie does Maz hand over Luke’s old lightsaber to his sister. Where’d that scene go? Well J.J. Abrams sat down with EW to get specific about the deleted scene, first speaking about deleted scenes in general:

“Sometimes you discover that things you would have cut off a limb to shoot on the day are absolutely inconsequential, and in fact less impactful than if you were to remove it… As much as you try to kick the tires and write and shoot only what is necessary — no one wants to waste anyone’s time — when you’re in the editing room you realize, for instance, that introducing the character there actually diminishes their power. Or, giving that information actually distracts you from what you should be concentrating on. Or, having that moment happen concurrent with that moment actually gets in the way of both — things like that.”

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Image via Lucasfilm

And what of the Maz Kanata scene? Abrams revealed at a WGA Q&A this weekend (via EW) that as originally filmed, Nyong’o’s character followed Finn and Co. back to the Resistance base:

“That was a scene actually filmed, but we took out. At one point, Maz used to continue along with the characters back to the Resistance base, but we realized that she really had nothing to do there of value, except to have her sitting around… Lupita did film scenes on set for that sequence, but it felt like going right just to go left, and it was unnecessary. So we ended up leaving those things out.”


Indeed, Maz’s scenes feel like they were heavily reworked or reshot, and this certainly explains why there’s something a tad off about that whole sequence. But ultimately, per Abrams, it’s what was best for the film. For curiosity’s sake, however, I do hope some of those original scenes end up on the Blu-ray, to see how the structure of the film would’ve differed had Maz shown up at the Resistance Base. And what an emotional scene that must’ve been, for Leia to receive the lightsaber of her father and her brother. Like I said, hopefully this scene sees the light of day at some point.

For now, you can catch up on our recent Star Wars: The Force Awakens coverage in the links below:

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Image via Lucasfilm

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Image via Lucasfilm


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