It's been a long, long time of waiting in this galaxy far, far away, but Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens will finally be available to own on Blu-ray and DVD today.
After breaking numerous records, becoming one of the most successful films of all time and earning more than $2 billion worldwide, it’s finally time to bring the magic of The Force Awakens home with you.
In addition to being able to traverse the deserts of Jakku, explore Maz Kanata’s castle on Takodana and watch an epic lightsaber battle on the Starkiller Base without having to leave the comfort of your own couch, the discs also include hours of extra Star Wars features and enough behind-the-scenes footage to delight fans of all ages.
Here are nine things we learned after watching the DVD extras in Star Wars: The Force Awakens:
1. In The Original Script, Poe Dameron Was Going To Die
Now, it’s hard to imagine The Force Awakens without the intense bromance between Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron and John Boyega’s Finn, but in the first versions of the script, Poe was supposed to die early on.
Since he was so sick of dying in movies, Isaac convinced director J.J. Abrams to rewrite his character’s fate. In the making-of documentary, Secrets of The Force Awakens, Abrams revealed that Isaac's plea was enough to make him want to keep Poe around:
“Originally Poe was going to die early on in the film, and that was the script that Oscar saw. One of his issues was that he had made four movies in which he had died early on. And he was sick of dying early on.”
2. Captain Phasma’s Costume Was Initially Designed For Kylo Ren
In the DVD we learned that Captain Phasma's armor was created with Kylo Ren in mind. According to costume designer Michael Kaplan, Abrams nixed the armor for Kylo Ren, but he and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy felt that the design still had to be included:
"J.J. said, 'I don't see Kylo Ren that way, but I love the idea.' Weeks went by, and Kathy came in and she said, 'What is that?' pointing at [the design]. She said, 'That's amazing — that has to be in the movie.'"
As for the name Captain Phasma, Abrams cited Don Coscarelli's 1979 horror movie Phantasm, which features a chrome ball with spikes. Since the name Phantasm already sounded Star Wars-ish, he thought it was a fitting way of paying homage to a classic horror film.
3. The Character Maz Kanata Has Real-World Origins
Lupita Nyong'o's elderly and wise character Maz Kanata was inspired by Abrams's high school English teacher, Rose Gilbert. Though small in stature, the bespectacled educator left a lasting impression on Abrams.
The design and production team kept pictures of Gilbert all over their work station as they were drawing Maz. It took 149 dots on Nyong'o's face every morning and countless hours of motion capture to finally bring Gilbert's legacy to the silver screen.
4. Things Were Not Always Easy On Set, Even For The Veterans
From the get-go everyone involved was worried that they wouldn't be able to deliver a performance worthy of the Star Wars franchise. Cast members young and old each struggled in their own way to bring their characters to life.
Even being one of the iconic original characters didn't quell those fears or apprehensions. Carrie Fisher admitted that her first day back on set as General Leia was one of her most difficult days:
"I'm the custodian of Princess Leia, so it's my job to kind of protect her. It's my whole life, so I was very nervous. The first day I had was this massive scene. I was scared that I would make mistakes, and I made mistakes.
"It was basically the worst day I ever had on a film set in my life. It ended, and I got to go to sleep and come in another day, and it was better."
As we all know, everyone involved was able to pull through and give truly outstanding performances across the board.
5. Peter Mayhew Gave Chewbacca Lessons To His Double
Although he was able to be on set and act in some scenes as Chewbacca, an injured knee kept Mayhew from performing some of the more physically rigorous sequences. Keeping with The Force Awakens's theme of passing along its legacy, Mayhew taught his body double, 29-year-old Joonas Suotamo, all about how to play the character:
"I have had words with him about what Chewie does and what he doesn't do. Being relatively the same height does help."
Since the average Wookiee lifespan is around 400 years, this will help ensure that — assuming he doesn't get into too much trouble — Chewbacca can be around for many more Star Wars movies to come. In the meantime, I would like to enroll myself in official Chewie lessons with Peter Mayhew.
6. There Were Around 105 Creatures Created For The Star Wars Universe
In the short behind-the-scenes bonus video, Crafting Creatures, we get a close-up look at some of the practically made aliens and droids that populate the Star Wars Universe. The creatures range in all shapes and sizes — from hand puppets to animatronics with performance systems — and include legacy characters, like power droids.
7. We Now Know Why Kylo Ren Turned To The Dark Side
There's been a lot of discussion about how Kylo Ren morphed from Ben Solo, a young Jedi prospect, to Supreme Leader Snoke's Dark Side apprentice. During his interviews, Kylo Ren actor Adam Driver divulged that it was a combination of nature and nurture:
"If you really imagine the stakes of him in his youth, having all these special powers and having your parents kind of be absent during that process on their own agendas, equally as selfish. He’s lost in the world that he was raised in and feels that he was kind of abandoned by the people that he’s closest with. He’s angry because of that, I think, and he has a huge grudge on his shoulders."
In addition to Ben Solo/Kylo Ren's somewhat absentee parents, Abrams noted that Snoke specifically zeroed in on him when he was under Luke Skywalker's tutelage because of his Force-sensitive family:
"Snoke had targeted this kid and knew that this kid was going to be incredibly powerful in The Force and wanted him as an ally. So this mother and father had a target for a son, someone who was watching their boy, and these parents aren’t there enough to guide him."
While I can't imagine following the teachings of someone who goes by the name "Supreme Leader Snoke" and committing patricide, I guess I can see how being a Solo-Skywalker would be a heavy burden to bear.
8. Simon Pegg Was Willing To Do Just About Anything To Have A Role In 'The Force Awakens'
As a friend of Abrams and a massive Star Wars fan, Pegg was eager to snag a role in The Force Awakens. Since he also had a prominent role in Abrams's take on Star Trek, Pegg had some reservations about taking on the movie, but they were able to resolve his concern with plenty of prosthetics.
Playing the Crolute junk dealer Unkar Plutt came with a hefty price tag. Pegg had to wear pounds of body padding, makeup and prosthetics in the insane Abu Dhabi heat. But for Pegg it was well worth it as he happily exclaimed:
"It's about 104 degrees, I guess, so it's hot in there, but it's Star Wars. I'd burn for Star Wars."
9. J.J. Abrams Designed BB-8 On A Post-it Note
Everyone's favorite new droid went through many, many different iterations before the team finally landed on his spherical design. In the section Building BB-8, we find out that the droid was originally drawn by Abrams himself — on a Post-it note.
The director then passed along said Post-it to the art department, which was able to flesh him out into many different versions of an animatronic droid.
The DVD may be riddled with more fascinating trivia than there are stormtroopers in the First Order, but some things you will just have to see to believe. Pick up your copy of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on DVD and Blu-ray, starting today.
'Star Wars: Episode VIII' will fly into theaters on December 15, 2017.