13 Things We Learned From The Star Wars: Force Awakens Behind The Scenes Reel

One of the highlights at Comic Con this year was a behind the scenes reel for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. When this was released over the weekend, I tried to pull together a piece dissecting the reel image by image, but the madness that is Comic Con prevented me from finishing it until now.

What follows is a breakdown of 13 things we learned from this footage, this includes confirmation of new and old characters, our first look at some of the cast, some story and character details put together from the new images matched with previous rumors, and some questions. Hit the jump to read our list.

Admiral Ackbar and Nien Nunb Are Back?

Rumors and leaked concept art seemed to suggest that Admiral Ackbar and Nien Nunb would also appear in the film. This behind the scenes video seems to confirm rumors, showing a Mon Calamari, best known as Admiral Ackbar's alien species, and a creature that appears to be an older version of Nien Nunb.

We also see concept art for Ackbar (or the Mon Calamari) in the center background of this shot of one of the animatronic puppeted alien creature effects created for the film.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens alien creature shop

C3PO's Red Arm

In June, a promotional cup for Star Wars: The Force Awakens revealed that C3PO would have a red arm in the new film. Now we have  shot from behind the scenes to prove it is in the movie:Star Wars: The Force Awakens: c3po

First Look at Ken Leung's Character?

Director JJ Abrams is looking at the monitor in a scene that appears to take place in a rebel base, possibly the same location seen in the C3PO image above. (Notice another shot of 3PO's new red arm here, too.) The thing to look at in this shot is the actor in the right background, which we believe to be our first look at Ken Leung's character. We don't know what role the Rush Hour star plays in the new film, but it looks like he's part of the Rebel military.

JJ Abrams and Ken Leung in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Simon Pegg Plays an Alien Creature

During filming Simon Pegg visited the set of The Force Awakens, spawning rumors that he would appear in the film in some capacity. Some reports claimed that he would play an alien creature who gets his hand ripped off in a Cantina sequence. The new video confirms that Pegg plays an alien creature in the new film. The footage shows Pegg in costume (sans mask, it looks like the heat from the desert shoot got to him) in a desert location. (The background could easily be a Cantina.)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: simon pegg in costume

There is also another brief clip showing Pegg's arrival on set early that morning.

Will We See Jabba the Hutt's Relatives?

An archway on the Abu Dhabi set seems to be inspired by Ralph McQuarrie's original unused concept art for the entrance for Jabba the Hutt's palace from Return of the Jedi.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens arch

And here are some shots of the Ralph McQuarrie art that inspired the arch, alongside a screenshot from the trailer that shows Rey on her Speeder headed towards it.  There is no confirmation that this gate is part of Jabba's palace on Tatooine, but it may be part of another Hutt royalty's palace. Maybe one of the Hutts lives on Jakku?


Rey Will Pilot the Millennium Falcon

In the first trailers, we saw the Millennium Falcon doing some pretty impressive moves in an IMAX-shot action sequence that takes place on the desert planet of Jakku. Some assumed that Han Solo must be piloting the ship, but this making of video suggests that Daisy Ridley's character Rey is in the pilot's seat.

In some shots from the new behind the scenes video we see Rey in the pilot's seat while the cockpit of the Falcon is on a remote control gimbal (notice the IMAX camera mounted to the hood). This seems to be from early in the film before Han and Chewie "come home." Later in the video we see Rey in the pilot seat next to Chewbacca (above), who is sitting in the co-pilot seat. Where is Han Solo?

Rey is Han Solo's Co-Pilot, But Where Is Chewie?

And lastly we see a shot of Han Solo piloting the Millennium Falcon, while Rey sits in the co-pilot seat and Finn sits behind them. Where is Chewbacca?

Poe Dameron Is Arrested on Jakku By Kylo Ren?

Oscar Issac's character Poe Dameron runs by his full size practical X-Wing Fighter on what appears to be the desert planet of Jakku.Star Wars: The Force Awakens: finn x-wing

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) touches down from a space craft, and while the door is reiminscient of the Millennium Falcon, I'm told its a different ship. First Order Stormtroopers guard the ship.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: kylo ren

Dameron is arrested, shown escorted in handcuffs down a hallway by a First Order Stormtrooper. The hallway appears to be an Imperial ship, possibly an Imperial Star Destroyer?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens poe dameron

Could this be a hallway from the same dark spacecraft? The slate number suggests this comes somewhere in the second act of the film.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Also, is this the same ship in which we see JJ Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan working on the screenplay during production?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: jj abrams and lawrence kasdan

Could this also be the Starkiller base on which Domhnall Gleeson's First Order officer is stationed?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: domhnall gleeson

Princess Leia Is Still Leading the Rebels

Carrie Fisher reprises her role as Princess Leia, and in the shots we see of her in the new behind the scenes piece, it appears she is still leading the rebels in military strategy.

We Will Meet a Lot of New Alien Creatures

The new behind the scenes video is playing up the practical nature of the new film, from the sets, to the props and even that alien creatures. It seems like there will be a lot of new alien creatures in The Force Awakens. One of the alien creatures and a human lover (or slave?); look at the way she is laid out against the larger alien.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens alien

We previously saw these two in a photo spread in Vanity Fair Star Wars: The Force Awakens issue:


Later in the video we see the designers working on the mask for this creature:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens alien creature shop

As the designers working on the costume for Chewbacca, notice all the alien creature concept art in the background.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens alien creature shop

One of the five humans who puppets Bobbajo.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens creature puppet

Bobbajo is the merchant alien creature we first saw in the JJ Abrams Force For Change video:

JJ Abrams Star Wars Force Awakens setWarwick Davis stands next to another new alien creature. Davis played the Ewok Wicket in Return of the Jedi and a bunch of characters in the prequels. We still don't know what role he will play in this new film.Star Wars: The Force Awakens: warwick davis and a new creature

And a few shots of more alien creature effects and costumes.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens alien creature shopStar Wars: The Force Awakens alien creature shop

We will See a Lot of Desert Landscape

The behind the scenes footage shows a lot of shots of desert planet, likely Daisy Ridley's character Rey's home planet of Jakku, although Tatooine could also appear in the movie. The shot below takes place early in the film,  suggested by the scene number on the camera slate.  Its possible that JJ and his crew at Bad Robot are purposely including footage from early in the film, which is why we may be seeing a lot of Jakku.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

We see concept art and a practically built First Order TIE Fighter, which appears to have crashed on a desert planet, likely Jakku. Could this be Finn's ship, or that of one of his old co-workers in the First Order?

A flame trooper sets fire to a home on a desert planet.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: first order flame trooper

Here's Lucasfilm head and Star Wars: The Force Awakens producer Kathleen Kennedy on a desert planet set. In the background appears to be the construction of a fallen AT-AT walker. We have heard that Rey lives in the wreckage of the vehicle which has been abandoned on the planet from the Battle of Jakku.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Kathleen kennedyStar Wars: The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams hugs his star Daisy Ridley and addresses the crew on the first day of principal photography.

That Isn't Star Wars: Rogue One Screenwriter Gary Whitta

Here's a shot of the crew of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the beginning of a shot on a stage at Pinewood Studios. Is that Star Wars: Rogue One screenwriter Gary Whitta? JJ Abrams is behind the monitor on the right of the image.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens behind the scenes

It is not Gary Whitta, even though he did visit the London set while working on Rogue One. The writer responded to me on twitter:

Is This a First Look at Lupita Nyong'o's Character?

Below is Lupita Nyong'o performing performance capture for her role as Maz Kantana, an alien pirate. Notice the person in the background seems to be taller than Nyong'o. Rumor has it that Lupita filmed her part while on her knees, because her character is short. (Think Yoda.)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Lupita Nyong'oSome fans theorize that the following alien could be the physical appearance of Maz Kantana.Star Wars: The Force Awakens alien creature shop

In the video we see that this is a remote controlled animatronic. The FaceShift software spotted on the computer allows someone to control the puppet in real time by recording movements with a video camera. But why would they create a practical puppet if the creature will be created using CG? The theory is that a little person actor wore this animatronic rig on set during the performance. I'm not entirely sure I buy this, as it is an expensive way to go if the character is mostly going to be replaced with CG, but... we'll see.

Did We Miss Anything?

Did we miss anything interesting? Here is a gallery of more screenshots from the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens behind the scenes piece from Comic Con 2015.