SPOILERS AHEAD FOR STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER
During an interview with the effects team of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Yahoo! was able to learn from Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett that Anakin Skywalker (the Hayden Christensen version) and Ben Solo (now reformed) force ghosts were never created for the film, as fans have assumed that there is missing footage of Anakin and Ben appearing at the end at Tatooine when Rey takes on the Skywalker name with Luke/Leia force ghosts showing up.
According to Guyett, the VFX team never created a Force Ghost version of the former Kylo Ren that would have appeared alongside Luke and Leia in that scene. (For the record, Leia’s Force Ghost was created with Force Awakens footage.)
GUYETT: “My interpretation of it anyway is that when you see Luke and Leia there, it’s about the Skywalker [legacy].”
Guyett also suggests that an on-screen cameo by Anakin Skywalker’s Force Ghost was never in the cards. Instead, audiences hear Hayden Christensen’s voice — along with the voices of other fallen Jedi — in the final battle between Rey and Palpatine, which was enough for Guyett. “I thought that was a really fabulous moment.”
There had been plenty of fan speculation and rumors that Anakin was going to return for the film as a force ghost and this certainly debunks those rumblings along with the film itself (don’t expect scenes being on the cutting room floor).
However, Anakin/Hayden’s voice is heard in the film along with other fallen Jedi.
On the topic of fan rumblings of a mythical J.J. Abrams cut of The Rise of Skywalker, Creative Effects Supervisor Neal Scanlan confirms that what you see is what you get with the Emperor Palpatine scenes, so there doesn’t seem to be an extra stuff that didn’t make it into the final film from Neal’s knowledge.
Rise editor, Maryann Brandon, alluded to Palpatine material that viewers didn’t see, but Scanlan downplays how extensive those scenes might have been, at least in terms of the VFX team’s involvement.
SCANLAN: “I don’t think there’s anything you haven’t really seen,” he tells Yahoo Entertainment. “J.J. would always shoot variations on scenes — that’s the natural moviemaking process. But to my knowledge, there’s no alternative version [of Palpatine’s story]. We change camera angles, we change lighting, maybe there’s a dialogue variation. It’s just naturally what we do.”
Scanlan adds that the now 75-year-old Ian McDiarmid had a grand old time revisiting his Sith roots, even if it meant spending much of his time on a rig hovering in the air.
SCANLAN: “He was totally game for everything. We did some digital augmentation for some shots, but for the most part, we hung onto his performance. He’s fantastic.”
Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni have said last year that The Mandalorian will cover the origins of The First Order, however, that really didn’t happen in the first season. Although, Moff Gideon seems to be the very first piece of that puzzle and could be flushed-out in future episodes.
It’s also possible that the second season (or beyond) could explore Palptine’s development of The First Order via his puppet Snoke and his secret work on with Sith Cultists on the Sith Homeworld of Exegol.