Article Lead Image

Photo via Star Wars

J.J. Abrams reveals how Ava Duvernay improved ‘The Force Awakens’

Duvernay's advice involved the film's memorable lightsaber battle on Starkiller Base.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Posted on Oct 20, 2016   Updated on May 25, 2021, 6:27 pm CDT

It takes a village to make a Star Wars movie, and J.J. Abrams just revealed yet another creative powerhouse who worked on The Force Awakens behind the scenes.

In the director’s commentary on the upcoming 3D Collector’s Edition, Abrams revealed that he turned to Selma director Ava Duvernay for advice on Rey’s duel with Kylo Ren. You can listen to a clip of the commentary track on Yahoo, where Abrams explains that he showed an early cut of the film to DuVernay, who had “a bunch of great suggestions.”

For Rey and Kylo Ren’s lightsaber battle on Starkiller Base, DuVernay recommended that Abrams include a “really cool moment” for Rey. Specifically, the intense close-up where Rey pauses to gather the power of the Force while struggling with Ren. They also added a shot where Rey knocks Ren to the ground, another powerful moment for the franchise’s most passionate lightsaber battle.

As well as being a cool detail from behind the scenes, this clip is a useful illustration of how reshoots are not necessarily a bad thing. A lot of fans are worried that Rogue One‘s reshoots indicate problems with the film, but Abram’s commentary makes it clear that there’s nothing wrong with filming additional material—or asking for outside help.

Share this article
*First Published: Oct 20, 2016, 8:16 am CDT