The newest entry in the Star Wars saga was packed with major revelations, but some seemed to subvert the mysteries presented in The Force Awakens.
With Star Wars: The Last Jedi now playing in theaters, writer and director Rian Johnson is starting to open up about one of the most controversial decisions: the identities of Rey's parents.
Warning: Spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi below.
In the film, Kylo Ren purports to tell Rey something she already knew deep down, but has since buried; Rey's parents were junk rats who traded her away for drinking money. They are nobodies, now dead on somewhere on Jakku.
Johnson addressed the revelation during a conversation with SlashFilm, explaining that the identities of Rey's parents came about organically from what the story required of its characters.
"That was like everything else in the movie, something that I came to through a process of breaking the story and figuring it out. The nice thing was I didn’t… I was very thankful there was no slip of paper that was handed to me that said Rey’s parents are so and so. The fact that I had the freedom to figure it out meant that for this story I could figure out the most dramatically potent answer to that question."
It seemed like The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams had some intentions for that plot point, though at the time he was never going to follow it up. But Abrams didn't provide Johnson with any direction to take this particular story. And now he's taken over directing and co-writing duties on Episode IX, having to deal with what Johnson brought to the table.
Before the movie came out, fans theorized that she was the daughter of Luke Skywalker, of Leia Organa and Han Solo, of Emperor Palpatine, or of Obi-Wan Kenobi. None of those guesses turned out to be true, and some have expressed anger at the revelation, but Johnson stands by his choice.
"If Rey in this movie, if someone had told her 'Yes, here’s the answer. You are so and so’s daughter. Here’s your place in this world. Here you go.' That would be the easiest thing she and the audience could hear," Johnson said. "It would hand her on a silver platter her place in all this. The hardest thing for all of us to hear and the thing that she doesn’t wanna hear and maybe we don’t either is that no, this is not going to be something where it’s going define you. And the fact that you don’t have this is gonna be used against you by Kylo to try and pull him into your orbit. This is going to be hard. And you’re gonna have to stand on your own two feet and define yourself in this story."
Johnson wanted to put both Rey and the audience in a difficult situation to cope with, and judging by the reactions, the filmmaker succeeded.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now playing in theaters everywhere.