Return of the Jedi Deleted Scenes Give a Forgotten Star Wars Villain a Bigger Role

Deleted scenes from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi shed light on an Imperial villain we barely got to watch on the big screen.

Death Star and Imperial Fleet
Photo: Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

We all know the major bad guys in Return of the Jedi: you’ve got Darth Vader, you’ve got Emperor Palpatine, you’ve got Moff Jerjerrod… oh, you don’t remember Moff Jerjerrod? Well, it is true that no one in the movie actually says the name of the Imperial officer heading up the construction of the Death Star II, but he has a few important moments. Viewers probably best recognize him as the officer who gets the “unexpected pleasure”of Vader’s visit to the space station and reacts with fear when he learns that the Emperor will be coming to oversee the completion of the station.

Fortunately, for Return of the Jedi‘s 40th anniversary, is bringing the movie’s deleted scenes back to the forefront, including one that fleshes out Jerjerrod’s role in the film beyond what fans saw on the big screen.

Played by Michael Pennington, Jerjerrod is more than just a man who gets pushed around by Vader. In fact, we learn through these deleted scenes that this Moff is less a coward and more a savvy operator hoping to maintain his career by taking advantage of tensions between the Emperor and his apprentice.

In perhaps the most striking moment in a deleted scene called “Jerjerrod’s Conflict,” the Moff stands outside Palpatine’s quarters, flanked by members of the Royal Guard, refusing entry to Vader. As you’d expect, Vader responds in his usual method for dealing with disappointing bureaucrats, and Force Chokes the man, but only for a couple of seconds before Jerjerrod manages to cough out that he’s following the Emperor’s own instructions.

Ad – content continues below

Another collection of scenes captures Jerjerrod’s struggle to follow the Emperor’s orders regarding Endor, the moon where Han, Leia, and the other Rebels are trying to take down the Death Star’s deflector shield. The Emperor commands the Moff to destroy the Sanctuary Moon with the Death Star’s superweapon if the Rebels succeed. Jerjerrod hesitates to follow those orders because blowing up Endor means killing his own men. But in the end, he relents and watches in horror as the Death Star prepares to fire on the moon.

These scenes are consistent with Jerjerrod’s canonical story outside of Return of the Jedi, which paints him as a pragmatic bureaucrat more interested in his career than in space fascism. Jerjerrod rose up the Imperial ladder thanks to his genius for architecture, and was one of the main designers of the original Death Star. Like the station’s prime architect Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen in Rogue One), Jerjerrod felt conflicted about the Death Star’s destructive capabilities. But he justified his involvement by telling himself that the station would never be used, that the threat of such a weapon would be enough to maintain peace and order in the galaxy.

Stuffed shirts like Jerjerrod were a major part of the Original Trilogy, to the point that Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin appeared to be at the head of the Empire in A New Hope. These characters fell away in the Prequel and Sequel trilogies, but they have moved back to the forefront recently, first with Moff Gideon in The Mandalorian and especially with the various bureaucrats of Andor. In fact, these deleted scenes make a point further explored by Andor: that the true face of evil is not found under a dark helmet or a black hood but on a company man “just doing his job.”

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi turns 40 on May 25.