Kira and Sam and A Droid Named Surly – A Different Look at The Force Awakens

Darth Vader’s castle? Starkiller Base located on – Dantooine? A droid named “Surly?”  These are only a few of the pre-production concepts and early ideas floating around for what would eventually become what we know today as Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Star Wars fans worldwide have been fascinated not just by what they see on screen but what they don’t see.  Deleted scenes, early concept art, and anything by Ralph McQuarrie is considered treasure by Star Wars trivia buffs and the more of it that can be found the better.  If that’s the case, then any Star Wars fan will need to have The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens as part of their collection.

The cover to the amazingly detailed book The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The cover to the amazingly detailed book The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Title: The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Author: Phil Szostak and Rick Carter
Cost: $40
Age: 18 and up
Publisher: Abrams
Genre: Star Wars, non-fiction, art

The artwork is stunning.  The detail is incredible.  And the layout of the book is intelligent and easy to follow.  This collection of artwork used in the production of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is placed in chronological order.  Each section gives highlights about what was going on as the film went from pre-production to post-production.  The artwork mirrors those section highlights and to be honest my favorite parts were the pre-production pieces because they explored the nuances of what might have been.

Darth Talon presented in The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Could possibly have been an option for the "Jedi Killer" who would eventually become Kylo Ren
Darth Talon presented in The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Could possibly have been an option for the “Jedi Killer” who would eventually become Kylo Ren

The piece that caught my attention the most was the idea of Darth Talon.  Darth Talon appears in the Dark Horse Comics version of Star Wars (all of which are now considered Legends and not part of the canon).  She is a Twilek Sith and one of the “Hands” of Darth Krayt.  The introduction of this piece of artwork into the book seems to imply that she was at least considered to be the “Jedi Killer” who went unnamed until deep into pre-production.  Eventually, we know that “Jedi Killer” to be Kylo Ren, but there were so many different and varied ideas about what this villain would become.

"Kira" and "Sam" before their transformations into Rey and Finn alongside one version of Leia
“Kira” and “Sam” before their transformations into Rey and Finn alongside one version of Leia

For a long time into pre-production, the main characters weren’t called Rey, Finn, and BB-8 but were known instead as Kira, Sam, and “Surly.”  It seems “Surly” was just a placeholder name until a proper name could be found but it is quite funny considering the little droids perky attitude.  Kira seemed to remain fairly consistent throughout, only changing names as filming began.  But Sam went from being a Caucasian young man who looked similar to Luke to the character we’ve come to know today portrayed by John Boyega.  Interestingly, the character known only as “John Doe” for a long time (later Poe) was portrayed as having African ancestry.

Early concept art behind the idea of lightsabers.  Love the ancient lightsaber on the right!
Early concept art behind the idea of lightsabers. Love the ancient lightsaber on the right!

This book is incredibly well done and is a real treasure trove for any Star Wars fan.  If you want to know more behind the scenes concepts from the film, The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens will give you all you wanted to know and more.

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