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J.J. Abrams Talks ‘Force Awakens’ Deleted Scenes & Regrets Not Directing ‘Episode VIII’; Plus What’s In The ‘Star Wars’ Books

J.J. Abrams Talks 'Force Awakens' Deleted Scenes & Regrets Not Directing 'Episode VIII'; Plus What's In The 'Star Wars' Books

**Spoilers ahead**

Now nearly a week since it first hit theaters, there has been plenty of ink spilled about what we’ve seen in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” But what about the elements and scenes that didn’t make the cut? Earlier this month, in a chat with Collider, J.J. Abrams revealed that his first cut of the film ran between 2 hours and 30 minutes and 2 hours and 40 minutes, and that there were roughly a dozen deleted scenes. Now that the movie has come out, he teases a bit more about what was left on the cutting room floor.

“There’s a shot where Kylo Ren turns on his lightsaber, which was…not in the movie,” he told EW. “There were a bunch of things we ended up not using.”

One key scene that many have been asking about is Maz handing a lightsaber to Leia, as seen in the trailers for the film. It turns out it was part of a much bigger role for the character that was ultimately cut down.

“That was a scene actually filmed, but we took out. At one point, Maz used to continue along with the characters back to the Resistance base, but we realized that she really had nothing to do there of value, except to be sitting around,” Abrams explained. “Lupita [Nyong’o] did film scenes on set for that sequence, but it felt it unnecessary. So we ended up leaving those things out.”
As the director elaborates, it’s through the editing process where one discovers what works and what doesn’t. “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,” Abrams said. “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.”

But if you want even more from the galaxy of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” you’ll probably want to track down the books. Vulture has done a good job of breaking down which ones connect to the film, so you can ask Santa for some last minute gifts. In particular you’ll want to request: “Star Wars: Aftermath” by Chuck Wendig, which bridges the gap between ‘Return Of The Jedi’ and ‘The Force Awakens,’ and sets up the world of Abrams’s film; “Lost Stars” by Claudia Gray, which gives a lot of background on what happened on Jakku prior to the film; and “Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure” by Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry, which has a small appearance by Poe Dameron.

So, plenty to keep you busy until Rian Johnson‘s ‘Episode VIII,’ which apparently Abrams regrets not directing. “He read it and said something he never, ever says. He said: ‘It’s so good, I wish I were making it,’” the director’s longtime pal Greg Grunberg told EW. “…I never heard him express regret like that.”

Still, I can’t imagine Abrams has too many regrets about what he has already accomplished.

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