When Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker comes out next week, it will be tasked not only with keeping fans satisfied, but taking on the responsibility of wrapping up both this trilogy and the ‘trilogy of trilogies’.
Luckily, director J.J. Abrams reckons they’ve stuck the landing.
“I’m very happy with the ending,” Abrams told PEDESTRIAN.TV. “I mean, I’m happy with the ending of the movie.”
Abrams was brought on to direct The Rise of Skywalker after original director Colin Trevorrow left over “creative differences” with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. He was in the unique position of being asked to finish the story he’d begun in The Force Awakens (2015), which appeared to be a difficult one following the events of The Last Jedi (2017), directed by Rian Johnson.
“The ending came to us fairly early on. And of course it adjusted a bit here and there and in nuanced ways, but it was weird how that came sooner than the beginning. The beginning was a hard, hard thing to crack for some reason,” Abrams said.
Part of that was due to the tragic – and untimely – death of star Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia in both the original trilogy and the sequels. Her character was intended to play a huge part in this third and final film.
“The idea of doing the film without Carrie was impossible,” Abrams said. They couldn’t recast, and they wouldn’t digitally recreate her image. Instead, they used unused footage from The Force Awakens and wrote around those scenes.
“It certainly is not the send off had she been here,” Kennedy told P.TV.
“But I think given the circumstances of her death, and the fact that we wanted to make sure that she was a part of this final story, I think fans will be very surprised at what kind of presence she has.”
This film will finally give us an iconic Star Wars trio not seen since Leia, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in the original trilogy: the force sensitive Rey (Daisy Ridley), rogue Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) and rebel fighter pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac).
“That’s the whole essence of Star Wars,” Isaac told P.TV.
Boyega agreed. “The whole excitement of this one is we get an official trio feel. I think a lot of people haven’t really seen the way me, Oscar and Daisy are in real life, and I definitely feel like that connection leaks onto the screen, too,” he said.
All three were split up in The Last Jedi, a separation that angered some fans. And Star Wars fans are nothing if not vocal if they don’t like something. See: Ewoks, The Phantom Menace, Jake Loyd’s career, Jar Jar Binks, midichlorians… the list goes on.
“In terms of The Last Jedi, people are entitled to their opinions,” Ridley told P.TV. “Absolutely. I do think there’s a ferocity of opinion at the moment that can be a bit overwhelming. But Star Wars has always been a conversation starter, and part of the love of it is that people connect with different characters, and people feel the story is going in a different way. And I think it doesn’t always go in the ‘good’ way. But I think people are entitled to [their opinions].”
For Ridley, she’s loved being able to work with Isaac and Boyega in this film, while dealing with Rey’s lingering issues of her disillusionment with the Jedi Order and attraction to the dark side.
“She is drawn to the dark side, as she has said in the previous film. And maybe she’s tempted,” Ridley said, opening the possibility that this four decade-long franchise will be twisted by turning its heroine evil.
“But, you know, Star Wars is a film about hope. So I guess there’s still a hope that she will stay good.”
Anthony Daniels, who plays C-3PO and has appeared in more Star Wars films than any other actor, thinks it’s only natural the fans may disagree with some elements of the final film.
“Hopefully, they will all find in The Rise of Skywalker an ending that satisfies everybody. I feel good about it,” he said.
But, he added: “You can’t please everybody.”
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday 19 December.