'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' concept art reveals return to Coruscant

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
The book cover of 'The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' by Phil Szostak (Photo: © Abrams Books, 2020; © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Whatever you think of the finished product, making a galactic blockbuster like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is absolutely an art form.

The latest instalment in The Art of Star Wars line of coffee table books from Abrams Books and Lucasfilm takes readers behind the scenes of JJ Abrams’s saga-capping hit, celebrating the artisans who brought the film to life.

Written by Phil Szostak, the book features interviews with Abrams and his crew accompanying revealing concept art and storyboards. Yahoo Entertainment is revealing select pages from The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which goes on sale on 31 March.

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Read on for details about Lando Calrissian’s reappearance, as well as additional backstory about General Leia Organa that didn’t make the theatrical cut.

The wolves of Coruscant

In an early version of 'The Rise of Skywalker,' Kylo Ren visited Coruscant and encountered roving packs of space wolves as revealed in 'The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' (Photo: Lucasfilm Ltd. © Abrams Books, 2020/2020 Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Earlier this year, Star Wars fans got a look at the Episode IX that never was when Duel of the Fates — the version penned by original director Colin Trevorrow, and his writing partner, Derek Connolly — leaked online. That script featured some substantial differences from the story that Abrams wound up telling, including a final act that played out on Coruscant, the galactic capital that was a central setting in the prequel trilogy.

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According to Szostak’s book, early drafts of Abrams and Chris Terrio’s Rise of Skywalker script also ended on Coruscant instead of the Sith homeworld, Exegol. This storyboard shows Kylo Ren navigating the deserted planet, now inhabited only by ferocious alien wolves, in search of the ruins of the Jedi Temple.

Lando’s original look

An early version of Lando Calrissian's disguise is revealed in 'The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' (Photo: Abrams Books, 2020/2020 Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Billy Dee Williams hasn’t been seen around the far, far away galaxy since 1983’s Return of the Jedi. But the veteran actor made his grand re-entrance as space hustler, Lando Calrissian, early on in The Rise of Skywalker, encountering Rey, Finn and Poe on the desert planet Pasaana.

This early piece of concept art reveals that the always-fashionable Lando dressed for the Old West climate. “I wanted to get that silhouette of an upturned brim of a cowboy hat,” visual artist, Glyn Dillon, says in the book. “From a distance, when the hat flaps up, it did kind of look like that Western silhouette.”

The secret history of Leia Organa

Rey and Leia in a composition study included in 'The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' (Photo: Abrams Books, 2020/2020 Lucasfilm Ltd.)

General Leia Organa is a revered figure amongst the Resistance. But early drafts for the sequel trilogy suggested that Carrie Fisher’s alter ego wasn’t beloved in all quarters. In a treatment outlined by Michael Arndt, it was revealed that Leia’s status as Darth Vader’s daughter sidelined her while the Rebellion tried to transition into building a new Republic.

“Cast out of the thing that she cared about the most — re-establishing the Republic — Leia is then at a loss as to what her role should be,” the book quotes Kiri Hart, Lucasfilm’s senior vice president of development, saying at a 2014 meeting. “All of that is really interesting. It’s still conceivably stuff that we can use. I remember Michael saying at one point that Carrie is a survivor. And Leia is, as well, and that’s what we are saying about her. Tapping into what that actor can do, what feels real to her.”

Desert driving

Concept art for the Pasaana desert crawler as seen in 'The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' (Photo: Abrams Books, 2020/2020 Lucasfilm Ltd.)

When Lando encounters the young Resistance heroes on Pasaana, he gives them a lift — and a hiding place — in a crawler. The book illustrates how the crawler took shape, with some versions more closely resembling a cassette tape.

The imperial march redux

Kylo Ren walks through a hanger filled with Sith Troopers in a piece of concept art from 'The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' (Photo: Lucasfilm Ltd. © Abrams Books, 2020/2020 Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Like grandfather, like grandson. Just as Darth Vader used to inspect his Imperial Stormtroopers, Kylo Ren takes a moment to survey an army of First Order Sith Troopers prior to battle. We can’t see behind his mask, but it’s safe to assume he likes what he sees.

The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be available starting 31 March.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives digitally in HD and 4K Ultra HD™ on 13 April, and physically in 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™, 3D Blu-ray™ and DVD on 20 April.