It was the filming location that stole the show in the latest installment of Star Wars … a rocky outcrop off the coast of Ireland, which was for centuries home to a wind-battered monastery and its monks.
In behind the scenes footage of the film’s makers and stars, they have spoken of how Skellig Michael also captured their hearts as the scene for one of the movie’s most dramatic moments. Supervising location manager Martin Joy for Star Wars said that they had been on the hunt for “somewhere completely from another time and place”. “Skellig Michael, an island off the Irish coast; we were just blown away by it. It certainly fed into our Star Wars universe.”
Mark Hamill – who plays Luke Skywalker in the seven film (so far) sci-fi epic – said: “We could have stood in front of green screen and had them put in whatever they want behind us but going to Skellig island, it’s just indescribably beautiful.”
Daisy Ridley, a newcomer to the series who plays the key role of Rey in the Force Awakens, described how she was blown away by the Unesco world heritage site. “It literally looks like a rock that’s just come out of the sea and then to stand at the top and look at the sea was unbelievable,” she said.
The film’s director JJ Abrams described Skellig Michael as “sort of a miracle” saying the entire crew had been honoured to get to shoot there.
Production designer Rick Carter said: “In Star Wars, what’s so great is places matter. They actually are really related to who the characters are. We wanted to make sure that wherever we went in this movie you always felt that you were really there.”
The footage was posted by Tourism Ireland, as part of a campaign by them to attract visitors to the Wild Atlantic Way. Locations along the rugged west coast of Ireland will also feature in the next Star Wars film, Episode VIII, which is due for release in December 2017.