J.J. Abrams Kept ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Title Secret From the Cast

The freshly unveiled title of Star Wars: Episode IX, The Rise of Skywalker, was kept so closely guarded even its leading stars were kept in the dark throughout production.

“Last night, John [Boyega] still hadn’t seen the teaser, so we all watched it last night,” Rey star Daisy Ridley told THR at Star Wars Celebration Chicago. “He was all, ‘What is that title?!’”

The Rise of Skywalker subtitle was revealed publicly only when the first trailer premiered at Celebration Friday, which brought new looks at Ridley and Boyega’s Rey and Finn as well as Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron, Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, Billy Dee Williams’ returned Lando Calrissian, and Carrie Fisher’s General Leia Organa, whose involvement in The Rise of Skywalker is made possible through repurposed Force Awakens footage and movie magic.

“The title feels like it’s the right title for this movie. I know it’s provocative and asks a bunch of questions, but I think when you see the movie, you’ll see how it’s intended and what it means,” Abrams told ET Live at Celebration when prompted to explain the title, which brings to mind the killed off Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).

“But in the flow of titles, this movie had a very weird responsibility. It had to be the end of not just three movies, but nine movies, and the idea of having to incorporate the stories that have come before, strangely, is the story of the movie.”

Next to callbacks to George Lucas’ trilogy of Star Wars prequels, the Original Trilogy plays a role with the involvement of the seemingly vanquished evil of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), who is confirmed to, somehow, have a presence in Rise of Skywalker.

The characters inherit “everything that’s come before in previous generations,” Abrams added, telling ET, “Whether it’s sins of the father, the wisdom they’ve acquired, and the question is, can this new generation — are they up to the task? Can they stand up to what they have to?”

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker releases December 20.

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