It’s no secret that pretty much every major film released these days goes through some sort of additional photography or reshoots. When a studio is spending so much money on these kinds of films, why wouldn’t they want to spend a little bit more to get things right? Some reshoots are more extensive than others, and some films’ reshoots are more noteworthy than others—say, a new Star Wars film perhaps.
Ever since the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, fans have been poring over trailer footage to see if they can suss out what may have been changed late in the game. Given the complexity of the film and, frankly, the fact that some of it just doesn’t make any sense, it stands to reason there were some changes made during post-production. While it’s unlikely we’ll get the full story on the development and post-production on Rise of Skywalker just like we never got the full story on the making of The Force Awakens (spoiler alert: it changed a lot during filming and post-production), we do now have confirmation of at least three scenes that were added during Rise of Skywalker reshoots.
Speaking on the podcast The Art of the Cut, Maryann Brandon—who edited Rise of Skywalker alongside Stefan Grube—revealed that the film went back for a couple of weeks of reshoots in July 2019:
“We added a couple of scenes. We had two weeks back in London in July and we added a couple of scenes and added some dialogue that we felt we needed, and there were a couple of very small emotional moments that J.J. and I and Stefan decided would benefit the film, and we went back and got those.”
What were those scenes, exactly? Well one was a biggie: the scene where Luke’s (Mark Hamill) Force Ghost appears in front of Rey (Daisy Ridley). And another was the first scene between Rey and Poe (Oscar Isaac):
“The scene on the island with Luke, when Luke sees Rey. The film kind of informed us, after it was together, what it needed to say so we went back and got that dialogue. There was like a funny moment between Poe and Rey when he lands the Falcon and it’s on fire, we wanted to have a more humorous exchange between them. Nothing major, no.”
It’s unclear if Brandon is saying the entire scene with Luke was added, or if they just scrapped what they had originally shot and reworked the dialogue. As we now know, it’s during that scene that Luke gives Rey Leia’s lightsaber and encourages her to confront Palpatine, so it’s possible this dialogue was added because the story or structure changed during filming. We certainly know that the handling of Luke’s lightsaber in Force Awakens was changed significantly during reshoots—that’s why Abrams was able to use unused TFA footage of Leia handing Rey the lightsaber for Rise of Skywalker.
As for the Poe and Rey scene, I’d been told by someone with knowledge of the production that Rise of Skywalker originally opened with the Luke/Leia flashback scene we glimpse briefly later in the film, and Abrams admitted that the first act was the hardest to crack while crafting Rise of Skywalker, so this checks out.
To that end, Brandon also says that Rey and Leia’s first scene together was added during reshoots:
“We shot Rey’s introduction when she’s up in the air and the rocks are spinning around her, because we wanted to introduce Leia and her. I had to go back and find good shots of Leia that we hadn’t used in [The Force Awakens], and we had those and it kind of made us think, ‘Oh we could have this really fun scene to introduce Leia and Rey.’ So the film kind of informs you of things it might need.”
Brandon maintains that this is pretty much the extent of the reshoots, and that may very well be true. Or she may be keeping things under wraps, just as they did for The Force Awakens. Whatever the case, it’s nice to have some sort of official record of what was added during reshoots, as opposed to simply relying on reddit sleuthing.