rise of skywalker judi dench

From the “What Could Have Been Department” comes news that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker could’ve featured a cameo from Dame Judi Dench. It’s no secret that The Rise of Skywalker went through several behind-the-scenes changes before it arrived in 2019, and one of those changes involved nixing a storyline where Daisy Ridley‘s Rey tracks down the original designer of the Millenium Falcon. And while the storyline ended up in the rubbish bin before any casting could take place, it’s been revealed that Judi Dench was on the wishlist to play the original Falcon designer.

Above you can see some Rise of Skywalker concept art from Phil Saunders. The art features Rey speaking with someone, and if you look close, that someone really looks like Judi Dench. That’s because it is – or at least, it was supposed to be. On his Art Station, Saunders revealed that art was for a scrapped scene where Rey tracks down the original designer of the Millenium Falcon, and that Dench was on the wishlist for the role:

“Another random shot from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. In an earlier version of the script, Rey would have sought out the original designer of the Millenium Falcon to find a piece of hardware that could stop the First Order armada. Dame Judy [sic] Dench was on the wishlist for the role, and would have been great. Rey finds her on yet another desert planet of course, and her home would have been carved into the top of a spectacular mesa. I was just tasked with adapting a piece of reference provided by the art department into an interesting interior.”

It seems like Dench was never actually cast in the film, and it’s unclear if she was even offered the role. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker went through several different screenplays – the final draft is credited to J. J. Abrams and Chris Terrio, but there was a previous, much, much different (and in my opinion, better) draft from Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow, back when Trevorrow was going to direct the film. Now, I’m not saying that if Rise of Skywalker had found a way to include this Judi Dench scene, but I’m not not saying that, either. The final film was overloaded with a storyline involving Rey and the gang essentially on a fetch quest, so throwing a scene in there where Rey tracks down the Falcon designer certainly seems in keeping with that. In any case, it’s a fun “what if?” scenario to think about as we clutch our brooms and gaze up at the stars.

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