Writers Chris Terrio and J.J. Abrams on the set of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Writers Chris Terrio and J.J. Abrams on the set of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Photo: All Images (Lucasfilm)

With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker spoilers basically everywhere at this point, several folks involved with the film are finally giving their two cents on a few of the most contentious aspects. They’ve commented on the ending, cameos, intentions, misconceptions, and a whole bunch more. Let’s take a look, shall we?

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If for some reason you are reading this and haven’t seen the movie yet, we’ll drop this here.

Illustration for article titled iRise of Skywalker/i’s Writer and Editor Discuss Some Lingering Questions and Spoilers
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How much of Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly’s script was used?

Before J.J. Abrams came on board Episode IX, Colin Trevorrow was scheduled to direct and co-write with his frequent collaborator Derek Connolly. Of course that didn’t happen, but the two did end up with story credit. Last month, we asked co-writer Chris Terrio how much of that script was used, if at all.

“The producers wanted us to do a completely original take on things so they didn’t actually share the existing script with me,” Terrio told io9. “We started with just an idea board, which was just a dry erase board with our ideas. And then gradually the dry erase board became a word document and eventually, it became the treatment and then a script. But one of the great things about the process was that we were pretty much given a pretty long artistic leash to be on. So, yeah, J.J. and I, we wanted to start from a place that was purely our own ideas.”

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Was production rushed?

With that director change, J.J. Abrams was forced to move the release date on the film back from Memorial Day to Christmas. And yet, even then, one of the film’s editors, Maryann Brandon, says things were rushed.

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“We were definitely still trying to figure out a lot of stuff,” Brandon told The Rough Cut podcast. “It’s a struggle. It affected everything. About a third of the way through, Kathy [Kennedy] was like, ‘JJ has got to spend more time in the cutting room.’ And I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Not with the schedule that we were on. Not with what he was dealing with on a daily basis…he was just exhausted at the end of the day.”

Skywalker. Rey Skywalker.
Skywalker. Rey Skywalker.
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Was the final shot taken from earlier in the movie?

Earlier this week, a theory began circulating on Twitter that a shot of Rey on Pasaana was repurposed in the film’s final image of her on Tatooine. The arguments and evidence were interesting (read the full thread here) but, speaking to ComicBook.com, editor Maryann Brandon said it wasn’t the case.

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“That [final] shot was shot in the desert where they shot the sequence on Pasaana, but it was shot for that shot,” she said. “It was specifically shot for that and then ILM created a lot of that [final] shot, so that’s a question for Roger Guyett and the artists at ILM, how they created it. I picked the shot of Rey, which I know was shot in the same desert. It wasn’t already in the film, it was for that sequence.”

Speaking of Tatooine, does Rey live there now?

At the end of The Rise of Skywalker, Rey goes to to the Lars Homestead on Tatooine, the childhood home of Luke Skywalker, to bury the Skywalker lightsabers. The music playing at that moment is called “A New Home” but, despite that, it was never intended that Rey would live there.

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“I can say with confidence that neither the screenplay nor the film suggest that Rey is going to live alone on Tatooine,” Terrio told the Hollywood Reporter. “The track names on the soundtrack were at the discretion of the master himself, John Williams. I can’t presume to say what John meant when he titled the piece “A New Home,” but I can say that Rey’s arc over three films has to do with her finding the belonging she seeks with the new family she’s found inside the Resistance. The very last thing Rey would do after all that is to go and live alone in a desert. In our thinking, Rey goes back to Tatooine as a pilgrimage in honor of her two Skywalker masters. Leia’s childhood home, Alderaan, no longer exists, but Luke’s childhood home, Tatooine, does. Rey brings the sabers there to honor the Skywalker twins by laying them to rest — together, finally — where it all began. The farthest planet from the bright center of the universe, but a beautiful and peaceful place to bury two sacred objects.”

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Why is it just Leia and Luke’s ghosts that Rey sees on Tatooine?

Many people, including us, wondered why Ben Solo wasn’t one of the Force Ghosts Rey sees at the end of the film. Turns out, it was intentional to hammer home a point.

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“We absolutely discussed who would be there at the end,” Terrio told the Hollywood Reporter. “It’s not as though those Force ghosts will never appear to Rey now that she really is the first of the new Jedi. I think she has all of those Jedi behind her. J.J. was pretty clear about the idea that he didn’t want to take away from the moment of Leia finally appearing as a Force ghost and the twins finally being together. This might be in the novelization, but we talked a lot about how Leia lost her home. Alderaan is gone. So, she could never take Luke to see where she grew up as a princess, but Luke could’ve taken Leia to see where he grew up as a farmer. But, the twins never got to Tatooine together. So, the idea of seeing the twins together after the sabers are laid to rest felt like it was something that was very moving to me and J.J.”

It was all about Leia.
It was all about Leia.
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Leia’s connection to the Force was a huge building block of the film.

Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, Terrio was also asked about some of his earliest ideas of what he wanted to accomplish with the film. His answer was related to Leia and that final shot of the Force Ghosts.

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“I suppose our main goal of those first few weeks — because we were working largely with the Leia footage — was to fulfill the promise of “there is another” in this film,” Terrio said. “It has to put Leia into the Jedi pantheon. To do that without new footage of Leia was challenging, but that became the central story of Rey finishing the Jedi journey of Leia. That way, by the end of the film, Leia could join Luke as a Force Ghost and spiritually join her father and all the other Jedi. While you only see the twins in that moment, we thought that would give Leia more centrality, and you would really feel the strength of seeing Leia in the Jedi afterlife for the first time. Spiritually, it’s not a crazy idea that all the Jedi would be standing with them, but it might’ve been a bit of a visual shock to see all these new characters on Tatooine who weren’t part of the story of Leia, Luke, and Rey. It’s a fair question from fans because it’s a question that we debated endlessly — about what the final shot of Force ghosts would be. We spent hours and hours talking about this and debating it, and we decided that the moment when the Jedi have to be there for Rey, when it dramatically counts, is when she hears their voices. So, seeing them all at the end would be a lovely grace note, but we thought that Rey seeing her two masters, two Skywalkers, was stronger. Rey was in the unique position of having been trained by two Skywalkers, which is what’s going on in the moment where she destroys the Emperor. It’s her, Luke and Leia standing together because she’s got the two Skywalker sabers in her hands.”

Rey and her grandpappy.
Rey and her grandpappy.
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Was there ever more of an explanation of how Palpatine came back?

In the film, the return of Emperor Palpatine is covered by a few lines of dialogue. After being thought dead for years, some fans have complained they wanted more. And, it seems, it was in there at some point.

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Speaking to the Huffington Post, editor Maryann Brandon said there was “a little more information about it, what was keeping [Palpatine] alive,” in the film at one point but it got cut because “it seemed to go off-topic.”

“It was kind of a delicate balance and went back and forth a lot about how much we wanted to reveal,” Brandon continued. “Some scenes changed quite a bit, the way that we wanted to present it to the audience. In the end, we ended up showing a lot less of it than we started with.”

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With so much going on in The Rise of Skywalker, was there ever talk of splitting the film into two?

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Many complaints about The Rise of Skywalker, including ours, are that the film doesn’t give the characters time to breathe. And, it seems, Terrio agrees. He even thinks the movie could have been split into two films.

“I wish we could have done that,” Terrio told Awards Daily. “There is a lot of plot in the movie, and as a writer, you always want scenes to let the plot breathe more. If there were a way of doing it, splitting it would have been my dream. We could have written these characters forever. There was so much backstory that had to be left by the wayside...But George always said it was nine movies. That was the natural size of the saga, and so, other than a few initial discussions, we never really advanced that conversation. Of course, as a writer, it breaks your heart to leave stuff on the table that you think would have given the story more depth and nuance and to give the characters more to do. Speaking for myself and not on the part of the studio, I do wish there could have been a ‘Part 1’ and a ‘Part 2.’”

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Guess who’s back? Back again.
Guess who’s back? Back again.

How did J.J. Abrams get Harrison Ford to return as Han Solo?

One of The Rise of Skywalker’s biggest surprises is that Harrison Ford returns as Han Solo, this time as the personification of Ben Solo’s conflicted subconscious. Speaking to Vanity Fair, director J.J. Abrams was asked how that happened.

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“Well, I called him and I said, ‘We want to have a scene in the film between Kylo Ren and his father, would you do it?’ And he said, ‘Okay.’ It’s not more interesting,” Abrams said. “We had a meeting and talked about what it would be. Harrison, who is one of the great people ever, and incredibly thoughtful about everything that he does, all he ever wants is to understand the utility of the character. ‘What is my role?’ It was about sitting with him and explaining what our intention was. We talked about it for quite a while, I sent him the pages. He got it, and of course, as you can see, he was wonderful.”


We’re sure much will continue to be said about the film in the next few weeks. The Rise of Skywalker is now in theaters.

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Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo

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