Kylo Ren’s restored helmet in STAR WARS: EPISODE IX.

Abrams, Driver on Rise of Skywalker & Force Awakens Connections

Director J.J. Abrams and actor Adam Driver recently shared with Vanity Fair that much of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was planned “from the very beginning,” as the ending was always designed to close a satisfying arc of the entire Skywalker saga.

“If a kid is watching all nine movies, he or she sees this one path, this inevitability and that’s the challenge of this movie,” Abrams said, citing meetings with Johnson, George Lucas, and The Force Awakens and original trilogy writer Lawrence Kasdan.

Adam Driver, who plays Kylo Ren in the final Skywalker trilogy, adds that specific character paths remained from the beginning. Yes, even when Rian Johnson took over writing and directing duties for The Last Jedi.  And that nobody altered them following Johnson’s ambitious script: “I knew little bits from my first meeting with J.J. An overall arc was very, not vague, the opposite, it was very clear—[there was] an end in sight even from the very beginning. The details obviously hadn’t been worked out, but we had talked about the very thing that we’d been working towards with this last one.”

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Abrams also spoke about how the choices Johnson made inspired him. He says, “Having seen what Rian did made me approach this from a place of instinct and gut. I was making choices I knew I would not have made on VII, some story-wise, but more in terms of directing. I found myself feeling less like I’m going to try and do something that feels like it’s [only] true to the specifics of this franchise or the story.”

Returning cast members for Rise of Skywalker include leads Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac. Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo and Billie Lourd are also back. Joining the cast are Naomi Ackie (Doctor Who), Richard E. Grant (Logan), Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings), and Keri Russell (The Americans). Veteran Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams also return as Luke, Threepio, and Lando Calrissian.

The role of Leia Organa will once again be played by Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: The Force AwakensStar Trek) returning to direct the ninth and final installment of the Skywalker saga. Abrams co-wrote the screenplay with Chris Terrio (ArgoJustice League). Composer John Williams, who has scored every chapter in the Star Wars saga since 1977’s A New Hope, will return.

Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams and Michelle Rejwan produced the film, executive produced by Callum Greene and Jason McGatlin.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20.