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Jakku Was Not Always a Desert Planet

Jakku was one of the first concepts the team came up with. At first it was going to just be a planet where an Imperial space station crashed, but quickly it evolved into a “junk planet” with a wrecked Imperial Star Destroyer among other things. Jakku wasn’t always a desert planet. They explored ideas of a junk planet be covered in ice and snow, or covered with overgrown greenery, or partly covered with water. Inspired by Spaghetti Westerns of the 1960s and the Afghani short film Buzkashi Boys, the junk planet evolved into something more Old West.

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Darth Vader’s Castle Was Almost Leia’s Resistance Base

Ralph McQuarrie’s unused original concept art of Darth Vader’s castle from Empire Strikes Back inspired the idea of a castle among the landscape on this junk planet. They played with putting the villain’s castle on various other different-looking planets.They eventually settled on a green-looking planet. The idea was for it to be Princess Leia’s castle, where the heroes find her after leaving Crime City. The castle of course would be obscuring the subterranean Resistance base. But in the final movie Maz Kanata gets the castle.

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Space Pirates?

One idea involved a bunch of alien space pirates raiding the Millennium Falcon. Another piece of art features the pirates having captured Rey’s oval-looking ship and making her “walk the plank” as their ship flies over the planet’s ocean. I’m guessing the ideas for these pirates somehow evolved into the gangs that board Han Solo’s freighter. A scene for the film was planned and probably shot involving one of the space pirates’ speeder ship not stopping for Finn as he trekked through the grueling heat to Nima Outpost on Jakku.

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Snoke Was Almost Female

Supreme Leader Snoke was one of the last characters finalized for the film, alongside Maz Kanata in October 2014. Neither J.J. Abrams nor creature creative supervisor Neal Scanlan wanted Snoke to be old and decrepit like the Emperor, and at one point they even explored the idea of the character being female. They even built a full-size maquette of the concept. I’m assuming this must have been before Andy Serkis was hired to play the role via performance capture.

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