Star Wars: The Force Awakens Deleted Scenes: 20 Scenes Cut From The Final Film

JJ Abrams' first cut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was almost two hours and forty minutes in length. Lets be clear, that's his first cut of the movie, not the assembly edit. The film was chopped down to 2 hours and 16 minutes for the final theatrical release, with a reported 20 minutes of scenes getting axed in the last month of editing alone. A dozen full scenes were left on the cutting room floor, not to mention snippets of scenes, moments of dialogue... etc. A lot of these scenes had near-complete visual effects, and some of the characters and moments removed can be seen in some of the merchandise and books. So what was left out of the final theatrical cut? Let's try to find out.

Warning: The following post contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Don't read this post if you haven't seen the movie.

Constable Zuvio

Before I get into my exclusive information, let's first reiterate what Abrams has said about the editing process. Talking to Entertainment Weekly about one cut shot, Abrams revealed more about the process of cutting some of the scenes and moments out of the final edit of the film:

So we ended up leaving those things out. 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.

So what scenes and moments were cut from the final theatrical release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens? We don't know everything. We only know what we've heard from our various sources, mixed with reports from other websites, and cross-checked with the narrative presented in the novelization and other tie-in books. What follows is a list of scenes and moments that didn't make the final cut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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Lightsaber in Space

This one might be the most notable as it was one of the first rumors reported about the film. And while the opening sequence didn't end up in the final film, it was real.

Originally the film was supposed to open with a different scene immediately following the crawl. The camera was to pan down as a hand holding a lightsaber (or maybe just the lightsaber and not the hand — it's unclear). The lightsaber is is the one that belonged to Anakin Skywalker, which Luke Skywalker lost in Bespin when Darth Vader chopped off his hand. The saber originally flew by through space, heading towards a planet. This shot was cut late in the process.

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General Leia and the New Republic

In the film, General Leia's appearance is saved for late in the film. Leia first shows up as Han, Chewie and Finn outside Maz's castle following the First Order attack. But originally she appeared much earlier in the film. Her appearance set up the Galactic senate, with Leia having a conversation with Korr Sella (played by Maisie Richardson-Sellers), the dark-haired woman who is featured in the balcony scene when Starkiller base blows up Hosinian Prime. The Visual Dictionary features the above screenshot (right) of Korr, which appears to be a shot from this sequence in the movie. The book also explains that Leia, with a reputation twisted by corrupt politicians, relies on the young envoy to "make her case for the Senate to take direct action against the First Order." While I don't know the exact extent of what was filmed, the scene is described in the novelization as follows:

As usual, Leia did not waste time on small talk: "You need to go to the Senate right away. Tell them I insist that they take action against the First Order. The longer they bicker and delay, the stronger the Order becomes." She leaned toward the other woman. "If they fail to take action soon, the Order will have grown so strong the Senate will be unable to do anything. It won't matter what they think." Sella indicated her understanding. "With all respect: Do you think the senators will listen?" "I don't know." Leia bit down on her lower lip. "So much time has passed. There was a time when they were at least willing to listen. And of course, the Senate's makeup has changed. Some of those who were always willing to pay attention to me have retired. Some of those who have replaced them have their own agendas." She smiled ruefully. "Not all senators think I'm crazy. Or maybe they do. I don't care what they think about me as long as they take action." The emissary nodded. "I'll do all I can to ensure the Resistance gets the hearing we deserve. But why don't you go yourself, General? An appeal of this nature is always more effective when delivered firsthand." Leia's smile thinned. "I might make it to the Senate, yes. I might even be able to deliver my speech. But I would never, never get out of the Hosnian system alive. I would have a terrible 'accident,' or become the victim of some 'deranged' radical. Or I would eat something that didn't agree with me. Or encounter someone who didn't agree with me." She composed herself. "I have total confidence in you, Sella. I know you will deliver our message to the full extent of your considerable abilities." The emissary smiled back, grateful for the confidence the general was expressing."

I don't know why the scene was cut, as it probably provided clarification about the relationships between the Resistance, the New Republic and the First Order, while also setting up Korr and the Senate for the explosive sequence later in the film. I'm guessing that saving Leia's appearance for later gave the former Princess a better introduction and didn't slow down the momentum of the first act.

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Finn Tries to Hitch a Ride Into Town

After Finn crash-lands on Jakku, we don't see a whole lot of his long exhausting trek to the Nima Outpost. But I'm pretty sure they shot a scene where he attempts to hitch a ride into town. The above piece of concept art is featured in The Art of The Force Awakens book, and it was created shortly before filming began. The official novelization also features the scene. Finn flags down the ship, not caring if it is occupied by followers of the First Order. Here is an excerpt:

The speeder was large, battered, and packed with an assortment of scoundrels representing several different species — none of them noted for their compassion. Yelling down at him and making rude gestures, they rocketed on past without so much as slowing down, leaving in their wake only dry dust and derisive laughter. "Thank you!" To the vocal sarcasm he added a mock bow. "Oh, yes, kind fellow travelers, thank you so very much! Thanks a lot!" He continued muttering under his breath, utilizing words and phrases from a half dozen worlds that would have seen him busted in rank had he employed them in the presence of an officer. No need to concern himself with anything like that anymore, he knew. He was no longer a trooper in the service of the First Order. Should he ever again find himself among its adherents, the last thing he would have to worry about was censure for the use of bad language.

It's also worth noting that the speeder pictured in the concept art is something that evolved from earlier versions of the script, when they were working on the idea of space pirates.

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Contable Zuvio Keeps the Law

We've already talked a bit elsewhere on the site about Constable Zuvio's deleted scene. Many fans have wondered where the character was to appear since he has been featured in various toy lines and books. His appearance in the film must have been cut very late in the process. His scene in the film would have taken place right after the thugs attack Rey in an attempt to abduct BB-8.

From what I've heard, local peacekeeper Constable Zuvio "steps in to break up the tussle." After settling the issue with the Constable, Rey heads back to her dwelling, "keenly aware that the dastardly Unkar would like nothing better than to get his hands on her new droid." From what I can glean, the moment with the thugs would have played out differently in the film, as originally Finn (FN-2187) had not yet escaped from the First Order at that point. BB-8 recognizing Finn would have happened the next day. So the moment you see in the film of Finn about to help Rey with her attackers was either a reshoot or a clever edit.

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Who Is Luke Skywalker?

If you've read any number of interviews with filmmaker J.J. Abrams talking about why he wanted to make this movie, it was the question of "Where is Luke Skywalker?" that sucked him into the project. He also mentions in some interviews that he was interested in the idea that, three decades after the Battle of Endor, people might not even remember Luke. One of the ideas that first brought the filmmaker to the project was an image of a teenage girl (like many teenagers in today's world, who did not grow up with the original trilogy) asking, "Who is Luke Skywalker?

Originally when Finn tells Rey that BB-8 has a map to Luke Skywalker, Rey responded asking that exact question. While that moment was one of the initial ideas that brought Abrams to the project, he probably realized through editing that it didn't make any sense that Rey wouldn't know who Luke was but a few scenes later would have heard about the Jedi. So the line was replaced with "I thought he was just a myth."

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Han Solo's Dice

In the film, Han Solo and Chewbacca recapture the Millennium Falcon ("Chewie, we're home"), and Solo smirks as he steps back inside the ship's cockpit. In the first cut of the film, Han used to hang the golden set of dice back indside the cockpit. Of course, the dice are from the "Cornelian Spike" game of sabacc in which he won the Falcon from Lando Calrissian. A photo of the dice is featured in the Visual Dictionary book.

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Maz Uses Force Powers to Stop Stormtroopers

In the original script, Maz Kanata had Force powers. After the First Order begins their attack on the castle, Maz used her Force powers to cause the ceiling to cave in on a group of stormtroopers that had them cornered. In the sequence, Han Solo was forced to stall the stormtroopers to allow Maz to concentrate. There was a funny back and forth between him and the trooper. Han runs out of things to say so he rats out Finn, revealing that he recognized Finn's stormtrooper boots – this is how he knew he wasn't Resistance.

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Unkar Plutt vs. Rey

They reshot some of Maz's castle scenes. Originally Unkar Plutt, the Jakku junk buyer played by Simon Pegg, showed up at Maz's castle and confronted Rey about stealing his prized possession, the Millennium Falcon. The sequence happened right after Finn confessed that he was not with the Resistance. Here is an excerpt from the novelization:

He smiled. It did not improve his appearance. "The ship you stole. The Millennium Falcon. You can't really track a ship while it's in hyperspace — but when it emerges, and particularly after it sets down somewhere, there are ways. Expensive, but in the case of valuable property, often worth it. Definitely worth it in the case of the Falcon. It happens to be fitted with a covert Imperial homing device. Old technology, but still quite functional. To which my presence here can attest. "Didn't take much to get the necessary relays working." No one in the hall was paying them the least attention, she noticed worriedly. In a place where everyone minded their own business, she found herself wishing fervently for someone to butt in. She twisted defiantly in Plutt's grasp. "I suggest. Kindly. That you let go of me. Now." Despite her attempts to pull away, he drew her steadily closer. She could not avoid the fact that his breath was a suitably aromatic match for his visage. "I suggest, less kindly, that you come quietly with me. Otherwise we'll begin right here, where you can provide some entertainment for this galactic rubbish." Putting his face so close to hers that they were almost touching, he lowered his voice. "I'm gonna make you and that wearisome droid pay for what you've done."

Rey attempted to defend herself with the new blaster that Han gave her, but Plutt was easily able to remove it from her hands. After Plutt issues Rey a threat, Chewbacca steps up and forcefully removes the gun out of his hands. Rey was glad to have someone to protect her. Unkar tells Chewie, "Half a Wookiee ain't much to worry about, not against all of me," and begins to poke Chewie in his injured arm. Of course, this made Chewbacca angry. Here is another excerpt from the book:

Grabbing the thrusting arm, a roaring Chewbacca twisted and ripped it off at the shoulder, throwing the dismembered limb clear across the room. Looking down at himself, Plutt let out a scream of agony as his underlings hurriedly fell back. The arm landed on a table where a group of four-armed, long-snouted Culisettos was gambling. With an annoyed huff, one of them picked up the amputated limb and absently tossed it aside, allowing the game to resume.

Its possible that this moment was cut for the PG-13 rating, although usually the MPAA doesn't give the R-rating for alien blood and guts (I'm not even kidding). I wonder if if this scene were still in the film if people like screenwriter Max Landis would still think Rey is a "Mary Sue."

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Maz at the Resistance Base

After having her castle destroyed, Maz originally was rescued by the Resistance and taken back to their base on D'Qar. This is where she had a conversation with General Leia and this is where the shot from the trailer comes from, of Maz handing the General the lightsaber. J.J. Abrams decided that there was really no reason for Maz to come back to the Resistance base as she didn't have much to do in the later story.

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Rey Sees Visions of Empire Strikes Back

Rey's original Force vision used to feature a shot where she sees Vader cutting off Luke's hand on Bespin from a different angle than we've seen in The Empire Strikes Back. This is why Hasbro produced Empire Strike Back-era Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker action figures for The Force Awakens toy line. In the final film, we do see Rey stumble through a corridor on Bespin, and if you listen carefully in the background you can hear Luke yell "Noooooooo!!!!"

Also, there was a sequence in Rey's vision that explained how the saber got from Bespin, landed on a planet, got discovered, and was passed along over the years. This sequence revealed that the lightsaber opening was actually a flashback and that the planet was not Jakku.

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Snowtroopers and Kylo Ren on the Millennium Falcon

There was going to be a scene where snowtroopers board the Millennium Falcon. The image above left appears in the Visual Dictionary. I don't know exactly what happened in this sequence, but I assume the snowtroopers do a quick search of the ship and find no one on board.

But the cooler scene involved Kylo Ren and the famous space ship. After sensing Han Solo may be near, Kylo Ren finds Solo's ship, the Millennium Falcon, in the snow outside the base. Kylo actually boards the ship and enters the cockpit, where he begins to have an emotional moment. Maybe it's that he remembers this place from his childhood. Maybe it's because in an alternate life he would be in this seat right now next to his father. He lowers his head and says "Han Solo..." Now, that's a scene I almost wish had remained in the film. Maybe it slowed down the story as it was reaching towards its climax, or perhaps it made Kylo Ren too sympathetic?

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Leia and Rey's Conversation

Leia and Rey originally had a longer discussion at the end before the General says "May the Force be with you." Here is an excerpt from the novel which might echo what was filmed:

"I'm proud of what you're about to do," she told the girl. Rey replied in all seriousness. "But you're also afraid. In sending me away, you're—reminded." Leia straightened. "You won't share the fate of our son." "I know what we're doing is right. This is how it has to be. This is how it should be." Leia smiled gently, reassuringly. "I know it, too. May the Force be with you."

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Snowspeeder Chase

The biggest action sequence that ended up on the cutting room floor is perhaps a snowspeeder chase that happened outside Starkiller Base. Finn and Rey stole the speeder to escape First Order stormtroopers. Here is an excerpt from the scene from the novelization:

Careening over a snowdrift as Rey struggled to maintain control of the unfamiliar machine, they scattered small local creatures in front of them as they sped toward the containment center. ...  "Snow is cold!" Rey squeezed the speeder between a phalanx of willowy alien trees. "It's the complete opposite of Jakku!" "Try living here," Finn told her. "There are only two seasons: winter, and dead of winter!" A sudden boom and the speeder's course wobbled. They'd been hit! Switching systems around like a card sharp dealing on a busy night, Rey succeeded  in maintaining speed. A second shot barely missed them. A glance back showed a second snow speeder in pursuit and closing. Finn realized that the way its driver was shooting, if he got any closer, he could take them out with his next burst. They had to do something, and fast. Rey was skilled at driving, and he was skilled at... "Switch!" he yelled. They made the difficult change only because they had to, with Rey still in control of their vehicle but Finn now in position to accurately return fire. Multiple blasts hit nothing, as Rey slalomed around and between trees while Finn fought to take out their pursuer. Damn driver knew what he was doing, Finn thought with grudging admiration. The man might even have been a former squadron mate. He tried not to think of that as he aimed and got off another burst.  This time his shot struck home, sending the trooper flying. Whether he'd killed him or not Finn didn't know, but the pursuer's speeder slammed into the trees and burst into flame. "Got him!"

This is why a new snowspeeder was featured in the cross section book, as well as featured in the toy line. This is also why the Vanity Fair piece included photos of Kylo with snowtroopers.

Darth Vader’s Redemption Is Dismissed

One scene we mentioned in our round-up of moments from the official novelization was originally in the film. The dramatic and moving redemption of Anakin Skywalker at the conclusion of Return of the Jedi is dismissed by Snoke, who sees his heroic turn as a moment of weakness for an amazing man:

"Kylo Ren, I watched the Galactic Empire rise, and then fall. The gullible prattle on about the triumph of truth and justice, of individualism and free will. As if such things were solid and real instead of simple subjective judgments. The historians have it all wrong. It was neither poor strategy nor arrogance that brought down the Empire. You know too well what did." Ren nodded once. "Sentiment." "Yes. Such a simple thing. Such a foolish error of judgment. A momentary lapse in an otherwise exemplary life. Had Lord Vader not succumbed to emotion at the crucial moment—had the father killed the son—the Empire would have prevailed. And there would be no threat of Skywalker's return today."

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Some other bits were lost including:

  • Leia originally gave a speech to the Resistance in the war room after the destruction of Starkiller Base.
  • C-3PO's appearance in the war room was cut slightly.
  • The moment when Kylo Ren ignites his lightsaber in the first teaser trailer.
  • Lots of bits of dialogue from the trailers don't appear in the film, including: Maz: "Who are you?" Rey: "I'm no one." Maz: "Just let it in." Finn: "I've got nothing to fight for."
  • You'll notice that Finn gives Rey his jacket as they approach the Main Oscillator building in the third act, as the jacket switches from one character to another with no explanation.
  • The reaction shot of Rey from the trailer was from a larger moment which was in many of the evolutions of the story — Rey is cleaning the parts she scavenged from the Star Destroyer piece while looking at the old wrinkly woman. She looks over at a mother next to her daughter, both dressed in fancy clothes. They are about to board a spaceship. And thats where the smile reaction shot came from.

There are probably many more moments and scenes that got cut from the film, but those are the only ones I have knowledge of. You can hear some of the stars talk or hint about some of the deleted scenes we mentioned above in the video above. And you can watch my friend Steve from Collider talk to J.J. Abrams about the deleted scenes from the film below:

Could We See an Extended Cut?

I love the fast pace of The Force Awakens, but I'd love to see an extended cut of the film with some of these sequences put back in. While there is nothing here that is absolutely necessary, it seems like some of the excised scenes could have cleared up some of the questions some viewers had (especially in relation to the Resistance's relationship with the New Republic).

From the sound of it, a lot of the visual effects were far along in the process or completed, so it would probably be possible for Disney to release a longer cut on home video, or maybe pull an Avatar and bring the movie back to theaters with new sequences later on. But Abrams has gone on record saying not to expect a director's cut:

I'm not a huge fan of directors' cuts and modifications to a movie. I feel the movie that comes out is the movie that should be the intended final product.

That said, we should probably expect 15-20 minutes of deleted scenes on the eventual home video release.

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