You may think there’s simply nothing new left to learn about the making of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, but you’re wrong. The third and final film in the new Star Wars trilogy brought the story of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Kylo Ren/Ben Solo (Adam Driver), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) to a close in rather divisive fashion, as director/co-writer J.J. Abrams attempted to craft a story that also echoed the six previous Skywalker Saga films that predated The Force Awakens.
New revelations are made in the feature-length documentary The Skywalker Legacy, which is included as a bonus feature on the Digital HD, Blu-ray, and DVD release of The Rise of Skywalker (it’s available in all formats now). The documentary chronicles the making of The Rise of Skywalker while also threading in footage from the making of A New Hope, drawing a line between George Lucas’ groundbreaking sci-fi film and Abrams’ epic conclusion to the story so far.
The footage in The Skywalker Legacy is indeed somewhat revealing, as we get an inside look at the process of making The Rise of Skywalker, including how Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio worked on set and their thought process through some of the film’s biggest twists. We also get a lovely peek behind the scenes of how the stunts were crafted, how the creatures were made, and most touchingly how Carrie Fisher’s performance was crafted for one final sendoff for Leia Organa. The documentary isn’t as tight or as candid as the Last Jedi doc The Director and the Jedi, but it’s certainly worth watching if you’re a fan of this franchise.
As a bit of a taste of what you’ll find, below we’ve assembled some of the biggest things we learned about Star Wars while watching The Skywalker Legacy:
- The first day of shooting on Rise of Skywalker was Poe and Chewie on the Millennium Falcon
- The first discussion J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio had was what to do about Leia. In consultation with their VFX supervisor, they decided to bring back unused footage from The Force Awakens
- When Leia says, “We have everything we need,” at the end of The Last Jedi, Abrams took that as a nod to the revelation in Return of the Jedi that Leia is “another.” Rey is continuing her Jedi training in The Rise of Skywalker but she’s being trained by “the other Skywalker.”
- The remote droid that Rey trains with at the beginning of the movie was molded from the exact same remote droid from A New Hope.
- Adam Driver did all of his own stunts in the trilogy, as the actor said he was “protective” over the physicality of Kylo Ren.
When Driver first met with Abrams, the director said of Kylo Ren: “I imagine a journey of a character where it’s almost the opposite of Vader. Someone who almost starts the most vulnerable and gradually becomes closer to his convictions.”
- Terrio says they knew from the beginning that there would be a Heart of Darkness-y structure to the film.
- Terrio says within 30 minutes of discussing the idea of bringing Palpatine back, they decided it was the right call.
- Sally Guinness, the granddaughter of Obi-Wan actor Sir Alec Guinness, has a cameo in the film. She plays a First Order officer.
- They used Jordanian soliders to play the Aki Akis, because they couldn’t fly the vast number of people needed in for just one sequence in the Jordanian desert.
- The Aki children were all hand puppets. They dug a trench to put puppeteers underneath.
- For the quicksand scene, they used black beans to simulate black sand.
- The design for Kijimi was a reference to Akira Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress, as C-3PO and R2D2 were homages to the same film.
- Abrams says the idea behind Kijimi was seeing what one of these cities looks like under the control of the First Order.
- Terrio says they wanted to learn more about Poe and Finn in the film, but needed to find a way to do it without stopping the movie cold. Hence the scenes in Kijimi where Poe runs into an old friend.
- Babu Frik’s workshop is loaded with Easter Eggs, including an homage to Ralph McQuarrie’s original concept art for C-3PO.
- There are 51 Easter Eggs for each of John Williams’ Oscar-nominated films on his workbench during his cameo.
Babu Frik actress Shirley Henderson performed the puppeteering of the mouth while doing the voice live on set, which is highly unusual.
- Abrams originally came up with the idea of visiting the crashed Death Star while making The Force Awakens. The documentary shows the concept art to prove it.
- Oscar Isaac suggested adding a scene where Poe says goodbye to Leia, which made it into the film.
- Terrio says Leia’s Jedi trial is complete in Episode 9: “The end of her path of a Jedi is fulfilled when her son turns to the light.”
- The ending of the film was intentionally crafted to mimic the exact shots from A New Hope.