While Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm‘s Star Wars: The Last Jedi reaps box office glory, Entertainment Weekly has spoken to director Rian Johnson about all the earth-shattering Last Jedi spoilers you can handle, including Rey’s parents, Snoke, Luke Skywalker’s fate and that emotionally-stirring ending!
First up is that moment that defied all fanboy speculation, where Kylo Ren reveals that Rey is neither a Skywalker, a Solo or even a Kenobi… she’s nothing. Specifically, the daughter of Jakku junk traders who sold her off for drinking money.
“I can’t speak to what they’re going to do,” said Johnson of what J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio are cooking up in their script for Episode IX. “And there’s always, in these movies, a question of a certain point of view. But for me, in that moment, Kylo believes it’s the truth. I don’t think he’s purely playing chess. I think that’s what he saw when they touched fingers and that’s what he believes. And when he tells her that in that moment, she believes it… The easiest thing for Rey and the audience to hear is, ‘Oh yeah, you’re so-and-so’s daughter.’ That would be wish fulfillment and instantly hand her a place in this story on a silver platter. The hardest thing for her is to hear she’s not going to get that easy answer. Not only that, but Kylo is going to use the fact that you don’t get that answer to try and weaken you so you have to lean on him. You’re going to have to find the strength to stand on your own two feet and define yourself in this story.”
That theme of any “nobody” being able to find significance in this story is emboldened by the ending, which features the dirty Canto Bight child slave Temiri Blagg (played by Temirlan Blaev) picking up a broom with The Force, then wielding it like a lightsaber.
“It’s mostly about Luke,” Johnson said of the ending. “To me, it shows that the act Luke Skywalker did, of deciding to take on this mantle of ‘the legend,’ after he had decided the galaxy was better off with, had farther reaching consequences than saving 20 people in a cave. Now the legend of Luke Skywalker is spreading. Hope is reignited in the galaxy. I couldn’t think of a more evocative image of hope than a kid who is playing with his Luke Skywalker action figure and being inspired by that to grow up and have an adventure and fight the good fight.”
Johnson also discussed the “Force projection” ending for Luke Skywalker, which he did not enter into lightly, consulting frequently with producer Kathleen Kennedy on why it was important Luke die on Ahch-To island.
“I think the hero’s journey of Luke Skywalker concluded in ‘Return of the Jedi,'” the director confirmed. “This [trilogy] is the hero’s journey of Rey, and Finn, and Poe. The [ongoing] story of Luke is one that has to play in tandem with that of Rey.”
Mark Hamill himself still hopes Luke will have a future as a Force ghost, which Frank Oz’s Yoda lightning bolt cameo proved can still have a concrete effect on the story.
“I’m just still holding on to the line, ‘See you around, kid.’ I can be in Episode IX!” Hamill said. “I might consider catering the film just so I can hang out.”
As for the film’s arch villain Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), many fan theories were thrown out the window when the new trilogy’s Emperor-like figure was summarily taken out by Kylo Ren.
“When I was working on the character of Kylo, I came to a place where I thought the most interesting thing would be to knock the shaky foundation out from under him at the beginning of this movie,” Johnson said. “By the end of this film, he’s gone from being a wannabe Vader to someone who is standing on his own feet as a complex villain taking the reins. It’s a really good setup going into the next movie. But then the question is: What place would Snoke have at the end of that? That made me realize the most interesting thing would be to eliminate that dynamic between the ‘emperor’ and pupil, so that all bets are off going into the next one. That also led to the possibility of this dramatic turn in the middle, which could also be a really powerful connection point between Kylo and Rey.”
For those who now feel disappointed knowing that their Snoke theory sucked, take heart as Johnson feels your pain. Especially if you thought he was the Darth Plagueis mentioned by Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith.
“I do think it’s interesting,” Johnson explained. “I never want to poo-poo the fans coming up with theories. It’s part of the fun of being a Star Wars fan. If there is a place for it in another story, I hope it gets told. It would have stopped any of these scenes dead cold if he had stopped and given a 30-second speech about how he’s Darth Plagueis. It doesn’t matter to Rey. If he had done that, Rey would have blinked and said, ‘Who?’ And the scene would have gone on… And I’m not saying he’s Darth Plagueis!”
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is written and directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper) and continues the storylines introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, welcoming back cast members Mark Hamill, the late Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, and Andy Serkis. New cast members will include Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro, Academy Award nominee Laura Dern, and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran.
The sequel is produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Jason McGatlin, and Tom Karnowski.