One of the main conversations that swirled around Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the question of how big of a departure the movie felt like when placed against Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In a new interview with io9, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy talks about how the planning factored into this current trilogy. Her comments around how the story evolved will probably raise some eyebrows around different corners of the Star Wars fandom. Now, stories of this size, scale, and magnitude are rarely mapped out in their entirety. Even if that is the case, to expect there to be absolutely no tweaks along the way is unrealistic. Still, the sort of abrupt changes between The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi led a lot of people to question if the filmmakers were just making it up as they were going along. That’s pretty demonstrably untrue, but getting a peek into the decision-making process is a nice moment of transparency for the fans heading into the current trilogy’s conclusion.
“Well, first of all, when we sat down to do Force Awakens we spent a great deal of time working out all three movies and doing a real deep dive on the previous six and talking about that, understanding the mythology that George [Lucas] had created, bringing in people who had worked on those films, been a part of Lucasfilm,” Kennedy began. “We brought in two or three different writers. There were, what? Eight of us usually sitting in that room and whiteboarding what the possibilities are and looking at character arcs, identifying. Because George had already gone to Harrison [Ford], Carrie [Fisher] and Mark [Hamill] to do the film. So we knew that was a given. That we were bringing them back into the trilogy and we’re introducing new characters. So we had a sense of where this was going.
“But the important thing is, I like to look at the first three movies that George did where he had different directors,” she continued. “He was really serving as the producing role in that. And we were doing a similar kind of thing, which is identifying genre and really allowing a filmmaker, and in the case of J.J. and Rian, huge Star Wars fans, and allowing them to get immersed, to find the center of the story and then make it their own. It’s obviously important, as George has always said, to have meaning in these movies. And as a director, I think every director should have something to say in what it is they’re trying to do and they need to find what’s personal for them. In addition to something like Star Wars, which has this incredible fan base that cares so deeply, that wants to believe that we’re as immersed in that process as they are—that we’re looking at the nuances and the importance of the mythology as they are. And I can tell you that that is absolutely what goes on. It’s endless conversations along those lines.
Kennedy concluded, “So you say “cemented?” I don’t think anything’s ever “cemented” with Star Wars. It can’t be. It’s so rich with possibility that you don’t want to reach a point where you think you’ve made a decision, and then not leave yourself open to exploring other possibilities and other considerations. And when you get a lot of smart people in the room who are all Star Wars fans, that’s never going to stop. And I’ve certainly found, in the seven years now that we’ve been doing that, that that’s what makes this so fun. As we add people to the family and those voices become important voices to the creative process.”
The end is upon us, and the Skywalker Saga is headed for a thrilling conclusion. How the fans and critics respond to it is absolutely impossible to guess. But, on thing is for sure, there will be a whole lot of talk surrounding one of the biggest releases of the year.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker heads to theaters on December 20th.