15 things we learnt from the Star Wars: The Last Jedi director's commentary

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is out now on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital (in the US - the UK have to wait a little longer until April 9), and it doesn't skimp on the extra content. The piece de resistance of the full package is definitely The Director and The Jedi, a full-length documentary about the making of The Last Jedi. Regardless of your personal opinion on the latest film, every Star Wars fan needs to see this documentary. It's an awe-inspiring look behind the scenes, and puts into perspective just how massive a project like this is and how hard hundreds of people need to work to make it all happen. Other bonus bits include extended and deleted scenes, and footage of Andy Serkis looking absolutely terrifying as Supreme Leader Snoke before all the ILM effects. 

Another great feature is the full audio commentary from the writer and director himself, Rian Johnson, as he delves into all the little details you might've missed and the trivia you couldn't possibly have known unless you worked on the film. If you don't wish to experience the commentary yourself (which comes highly recommend, as Johnson's enthusiasm for all things Star Wars is infectious), here are some fascinating things the director reveals over the course of the film, with the requisite spoiler alert if you haven't already seen it. You just might blow somebody's mind if you work these tidbits into your next Star Wars conversation. 

Every Star Wars movie has a different mix of the opening fanfare theme 

This one requires a keen ear: Johnson explains that the famous Star Wars fanfare that plays over the opening crawl is re-recorded by John Williams and his orchestra for every movie. To Johnson's surprise, the audio mix of the tracks within the fanfare is slightly different for each movie, with balancing that can sound warmer or sharper depending on the film in question. Something to listen for the next time you revisit the previous trilogies.  

Hux's stunt double felt the Force a little too hard 

When Hux has to face the music after the destruction of the Dreadnought in the opening scene, the stunt double for Domhnall Gleeson actually broke his nose when being slammed down by the Force powers of Snoke. Poor guy! 

The practical effects used throughout the film are astounding 

Johnson points out multiple practical effects throughout the film that'll make your jaw drop; you probably just assumed they were all highly polished bits of CG. The explosives that deploy during the opening bombing run, the space cow on the coast of Luke's island hideaway, Luke's pole-vault to his favorite fishing spot, BB-8 shooting out coins and communicators, the explosion of the stone hut when Luke finds Rey and Kylo communicating via the Force, the ship Finn and Rose crashland onto Crait - all were done using actual objects in the real world. Same goes for a lot of the sets, including the entire village on the island, Snoke's throne room, the gnarled tree that houses the ancient Jedi texts, and the entire (ridiculously huge) casino on Canto Bight. 

Yes, the space cow is real  

I'm harping on the same point here, but it's truly astounding that the space cow scene is a practical effect. That gargantuan puppet had to be helicoptered onto Skellig Michael (the real-world location for Luke's island), which you can see a shot of during the The Director and The Jedi. It's truly astonishing the lengths the crew went to for this brief scene, but the payoff was worth it, making for one of the silliest, most memorable moments in the entire film. The only thing that seemed to be touched up by ILM after the fact was the minty green tint of the milk (straight from the udder).

It was Rian who destroyed Kylo's mask - literally and figuratively 

Johnson knew that viewers would have to relate to Kylo throughout The Last Jedi - so early on in the script-writing process, he decided that he needed to get the mask out of the way so we could see Adam Driver actually emote. Having Snoke ridicule Kylo's mask as a symbol of his immaturity was the perfect solution. As for the mask itself, Johnson was the one who stomped on those crumpled remains we see after Kylo throws a temper tantrum in the elevator. 

There are some amazing Easter eggs hidden throughout

Johnson and co. snuck in tons of elusive Star Wars: The Last Jedi Easter eggs throughout the film - the kind most viewers would never notice in a million years if not for Rian's enlightening pointers. For instance, the door on Luke's hut is actually part of an X-Wing. Johnson snuck in a Zorkmid coin from his copy of Infocom's classic text adventure game Zork into the ship cargo that DJ rummages through. One of the extras in the Canto Bight casino was also in the original Cantina scene from A New Hope. And the pair of binoculars Poe uses on Crait is actually a modified Super 8 camera. Surely there are more there than Rian had time to mention - but good luck finding them yourself.   

Luke's line about the Jedi was shortened thanks to the trailer 

Luke's foreboding statement to Rey that "It's time for the Jedi to end" was originally part of a longer spiel, Johnson explains. But when Lucasfilm was cutting the trailer together, the dialogue was reduced to be far more concise - and Johnson much preferred this abridged version, ultimately using it in the final cut of the film. 

Chewbacca('s actor) plays basketball 

It makes sense that an actor who can fill the giant shoes (claws?) of Chewbacca is probably tall enough to slam dunk. Joonas Suotamo, who plays Chewbacca in The Last Jedi, also played basketball as a power forward for Penn State. Johnson commends his nuanced performance beneath the ample amounts of fur and makeup needed to bring Chewie to life. 

Rian Johnson appears in the movie (his hand, anyway) 

In the scene where Luke sneaks aboard the Millennium Falcon and grabs Han's lucky dice, we actually get a glimpse of Johnson's hand. The dice are a callback to Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope - if you go back and look, you can catch a glimpse of them in a few Falcon shots. Johnson also provides the quick voice line of the mustache-twirling alien in the first shot aboard the yacht on Canto Bight. 

Yoda's cameo is as authentic as it gets 

For the amazing scene where Yoda reappears to teach Luke a valuable lesson, Frank Oz reprised his role as the wise old Jedi - and everything is pretty much perfect down to the very last detail. Oz was the puppeteer for Yoda (operating him from a little nook beneath the rock), and the Yoda puppet itself was recreated from the very same mold made for The Empire Strikes Back. The crew even found the same artist who painted Yoda's original eyeballs and hired her to do the honors for this new puppet. Oz's insights were also instrumental in helping Johnson nail down the right shots in the editing room.  

Laura Dern can't fire a blaster without saying "Pew!" 

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In an funny force of habit, Laura Dern just can't fire a prop blaster without making her own accompanying noise. It is, in a word, adorable. 

Carrie Fisher came up with some of Leia's best moments 

Two of Leia's best lines in the film are in there courtesy of Carrie Fisher, humanizing her character in such charming, admirable ways. Saying "You go, I've said it enough" when she bids farewell to Admiral Holdo, and her joke of "I know what you're going to say... I changed my hair" when she finally sees Luke again were both Fisher's idea. It's amazing how impactful these little touches of humor are, and a credit to how perfectly Fisher understood what makes Leia great. 

There are plenty of subtle clues that Luke isn't actually there for the final fight 

Johnson notes an effort to "play as fair as possible" with the climactic duel between Luke and Kylo, where Luke is projecting an image himself across the galaxy. If the younger appearance and haircut don't give it away, there are actually plenty of minute details to tip off the audience. Luke's footsteps don't make any noise or kick up any dust when he's inside the cave, he doesn't make any tracks in Crait's salted ground, and the salt flakes flying in the air never stick to Luke or crackle on his lightsaber (like they do with Kylo).  

Rian Johnson is a giant film nerd (in the best way) 

Throughout the commentary, Johnson makes tons of references to the kinds of cult favorites, obscure cinema curios, and classic techniques that every film nerd absolutely adores. Monty Python is name-dropped multiple times, while the tracking shot in the Canto Bight casino is a clear nod to the silent film Wings. Rashamon gets a shout out for the multiple versions of Luke supposedly trying to kill the young Kylo (when Kylo Ren was still just Ben Solo). Johnson even had to restrain himself from quoting The Young Ones and Topsy-Turvy when their stars were on set (to the point that he thought he was creeping out Andy Serkis with his encyclopedic knowledge of the script down to the line). He even managed to work in a nod to Hardware Wars, a Star Wars parody that dates all the way back to 1978. Clearly, Johnson knows his stuff, and hearing him get to geek out is just so darn endearing. 

Rian Johnson is a consummate professional 

This is a minor note, but Johnson seems to remember the name and former roles of just about every actor in every shot, along with the crew who worked the set that day. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that's rare for a director, especially on a movie as massive as The Last Jedi. Good on ya, Rian! 

Can't stop thinking about how this trilogy is going to end? Check out our deep-dive into Star Wars 9, addressing every rumor and fan theory out there. 

Lucas Sullivan

Lucas Sullivan is the former US Managing Editor of GamesRadar+. Lucas spent seven years working for GR, starting as an Associate Editor in 2012 before climbing the ranks. He left us in 2019 to pursue a career path on the other side of the fence, joining 2K Games as a Global Content Manager. Lucas doesn't get to write about games like Borderlands and Mafia anymore, but he does get to help make and market them.