From the moment Rey appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, one of the biggest questions that has hovered over the franchise is, Who is she?
From speculation about her parents, to how she has managed to harness Force abilities with such strength and precision without any prior training, Daisy Ridley’s character has been the subject of intense scrutiny – until Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out in 2017 and seemingly answered the question, by identifying her as no one of great importance.
While enraged fans refused to believe that fact, the actress herself explained in a press conference in Tokyo, Japan for the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker that yes, more of her backstory will be revealed in the final chapter of the Skywalker Saga.
“We can,” she seemingly spoiled, when asked about providing a satisfying revelation of one of the franchise’s most endearing characters.
“When we finished The Last Jedi, I was satisfied with what Rey learned in that film. But going into this film, I realised that Rey had some frustration with what she had been told and still has answers she is searching for,” she explained.
“She feels that she needs to know what’s gone, so she can move forward, so there is some searching and there are some answers,” promised the 27-year-old star.
On the other hand, don’t cross your fingers about the ninth movie wrapping things up neatly for fans. While this is the final film in a 42-year old saga, there are some things that returning director J. J. Abrams is not touching, including the much debated topic on midichlorians.
When Star Wars debuted in 1977, series creator George Lucas wrote that the special Force abilities were the result of a mythical ability that only a few could harness. When Lucas revisited the series in 1999 with Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, he concocted the idea of midichlorians, which were intelligent microscopic lifeforms found in Force-sensitive beings.
Some fans, including Abrams, aren’t sold on the retcon.
“The midichlorians idea which is in the movie, is part of the story, and everyone accepts it because it is what George wrote and is what’s part of the lore.” acknowledged Abrams.
“And yet, what I remember is this idea, when I was a kid, when I saw the first film, and Obi-Wan talks about the Force and how it surrounds all of us, and binds every living thing together. And that feeling of that kind of power, to me, is the thing I’ve always felt it was a bit more powerful of an idea.”
He joked, “It’s not that anyone here is rejecting midichlorians. Except Daisy. But the feeling of the Force as something you can feel, that you believe is, is a more powerful notion. And the thing that I’ve sort of felt is what the Force was to me. But the beauty of what George created is what we interpret for ourselves.”
One thing he was very mindful of though, is how Leia, one of the franchise’s core characters is depicted. Actress Carrie Fisher, who has personified the character since 1977, passed away after The Last Jedi, and could not complete the series. Instead of using digital wizardry to resurrect the character, which was partially done in Star Wars: Rogue One, Lucasfilm and Disney decided to honour the actress by using a mix of existing recorded footage, to complete the saga.
Explained Abrams, “There was no way that we could tell the story, the end of the Skywalker saga, without Leia. It was too important and we could not ever consider recasting, or using a digital character and so we looked at footage we did not use in The Force Awakens, and we realise that we could use it, and write around, and create new scenes, which we had done.”
And the production did so with the blessing of the fans, and more importantly, Fisher’s family. “It was very emotional and strange at first, to create those scenes without the most important person there but we did that knowing how important it was, not just for the character, but for the woman who played the character, whom we all loved.”
He went on to say, “Losing her was heartbreaking, and using this footage allows us to give, we like to think, the audience, the gift of seeing Carrie in the role of Leia one final time. But we all miss her very much and wish, more than anything, that she were on the stage with us today.”
And now that the end is near, the cast and crew are ready to tell the last Star Wars story, even as the franchise moves ahead without them.
“It’s a strange thing to divide Star Wars from our lives over the past six years. Working in a place where you feel really good and really safe to make mistakes and try again, that you feel good, that you can laugh and you can cry, and everything is sort of kept within the family, is really really wonderful,” says Ridley.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens in theatres in Singapore on December 19, and in Japan and US on December 20.