The Last Jedi brought with it things that audiences had never seen in a Star Wars film before, including Leia demonstrating the abilities she had with the Force. During a recent Q&A involving the cast at a BAFTA screening, writer/director Rian Johnson confirmed that, while Leia had Force abilities, she was not actually a Jedi.
The director's confirmation came as a response to actress Daisy Ridley wondering about the many intricacies of the Star Wars mythos, as they weren't films she grew up with.
“Because I wasn’t so knowledgeable of the Star Wars thing, I still have questions about what it all means," Ridley revealed to the audience. "Like when people talk about Jedi and stuff like that I remember having a conversation with one of our executive producers on VII, Michelle, and I said, ‘But surely Leia’s a Jedi, because she’s Force sensitive and she’s challenged.’ She’s not challenged in the same ways as Luke, but like she’s doing stuff for the good and everything like that. I still don’t quite have my answer, like is she a Jedi? I dunno.”
Not wanting Ridley's comments to be taken out of context, Johnson confirmed, “No, she’s not a Jedi.”
It's easy to see how Ridley could have possibly misinterpreted the events of The Last Jedi and being somewhat oblivious to the varying degrees to which someone can be familiar with the Force.
Throughout most of the saga, audiences have seen very delineated examples of good and evil, Light and Dark, Jedi and Sith. Anyone familiar with the Force either used their abilities benevolently or maliciously and, given Leia's heroism, it's not a wild assumption to assume she was a Jedi.
In novels, comic books and video games released after Return of the Jedi and before Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm, fans discovered many characters who not only had varying strengths of Force abilities, but also whose morality fell into a grey area, avoiding aligning with either Jedi or Sith beliefs. In the years since Disney's acquisition, however, only the six films in the Skywalker Saga and Star Wars: The Clone Wars were considered official canon, greatly reducing these grey areas.
The Last Jedi showed off not just new Force abilities, but also delivered audiences a character who could at one point be a Jedi, yet turn his back on those beliefs and cut themselves off from the Force altogether. We also saw a stable boy using his Force abilities, despite seemingly being too young and sheltered to be fully aware of the concepts of Jedi or Sith.
Audiences can see Leia's abilities in The Last Jedi, in theaters now.
[H/T Walt Disney Studios]