Anyone who has seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens (and that should be everyone by this stage, let’s be honest) knows that it’s a beautifully nostalgic film. There are numerous nods to the original trilogy and the vision of George Lucas, from the Imperial Destroyer laying in ruins on Jakku to Finn’s name (we’ll explain that in a piece published tomorrow so stay tuned).
However, something not a lot of people realised was the inclusion of two of the most famous Jedi Masters of all time. Think back to Rey’s dream sequence when she discovers Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber in Maz Kanata’s basement, which shows flashes of hallucinatory flashbacks including Luke touching R2-D2. She also sees a number of dead bodies scattered at the feet of Kylo Ren during a torrential rainstorm, accompanied by the menacing Knights of Ren. At the end, she sees herself being deserted by her family on the world of Jakku.
And at that moment, we hear two familiar voices: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. Entertainment Weekly via Squareeyed interviewed J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan after a Writers Guild of America screening and the duo revealed how that scene came to be, with Abrams also confirming that some iconic actors reprised their roles: Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan), Frank Oz (Yoda) and Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan) in a clever editing trick seeing that the actor died in 2000.
“The idea of the voices was, we wanted the audience to feel – but not necessarily be presented right in your face — this idea that familiar, Force-strong voices were connecting with her. At least as well as they could,” Abrams says.
For those that remember the part of the movie but can’t recall exactly what was said, here it is…
“You do hear a little bit of Yoda. You hear Luke yelling out, ‘Nooo!’ from that moment in Empire. And you hear Obi-Wan at the end say, ‘Rey … these are your first steps,’” Abrams says. “Here’s the cool part. We asked Ewan McGregor to come in and do the line. And he was awesome and we were very grateful. He was incredibly sweet and handsome, and all that stuff. Then he rode off on his motorcycle. Literally the coolest voice over actor ever.”
During the editing process of the dream sequence, producer Bryan Burk revealed to Abrams how they managed to integrate McGuinness’ voice into the film.
“I said, ‘That’s cool, is that the thing from Ewan McGregor?’” Abrams recalled. “He said ‘No, we took a line from Alec Guinness saying ‘Afraid.’” HOW AWESOME IS THAT!?
“They cut it, and you hear the performance – he’s saying it the way I would have begged Alec Guinness to have said it. It is so crazy perfect,” Abrams said. “So when you hear Obi-Wan talk to Rey it is both Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor doing the voice.”
Our own Jon Snelling updated this story a little: James Arnold Taylor, who plays Obi-Wan in the Star wars animated series’, Star Wars: Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, originally filled this little cameo himself but it was changed to McGregor in the final cut.
Wow, that is just amazing.
In addition to Guinness and McGregor, Frank Oz returned to supply his voice for Yoda and contributed dialogue for The Force Awakens. However, Abrams revealed they ended up using pre-existing parts of the Jedi Master’s voice.
“He was incredibly generous and came in to Bad Robot, where we had a recording area, and he was doing Yoda, saying a number of lines we gave to him,” Abrams says. “This whole experience has been one outrageous moment after another. Just watching Frank Oz, you look at him and talk to him and his voice is very deep. I don’t know why I would have thought he sounded like Miss Piggy!”
“He was very generous to say, ‘Whatever makes the movie better, I’m happy to help out,” Abrams said.
As for what Rey’s dream sequence doesn’t reveal, Abrams and Kasdan said they knew they had to suggest her backstory, but everyone felt The Force Awakens would be the wrong place to dive too deeply into Rey’s past. “We’re hoping Rian Johnson can figure that out,” Kasdan joked. “We were really stymied!
Wow, no pressure there Rian.
They do know who Rey is, where she comes from, and why she was abandoned. But Abrams says part of the appeal of the new trilogy will be spreading out those revelations, which means Episode VIII will surely take up the task of delving into her mysterious story. We can’t wait for that!
“Everyone who has seen these movies thinks about ‘I am your father …’ and ‘There is another …’,” the director said. “But neither of those things were in [1977’s original] Star Wars. Star Wars didn’t say Luke was the son of Vader. Star Wars didn’t say Leia was the sister of Luke. You didn’t understand what these references were: the Empire, dark times, Clone Wars. There were these things that were discussed that don’t get explained. George [Lucas] dropped you into a story and respected you to infer everything necessary to understand what you need to know.”
“Can this movie actually also hold, ‘And Rey is this … And Finn is that … And this is where Poe is from …’ This is the first of a series. There is a story to be told. And it will be.”