Why Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Didn’t Include These Characters as Force Ghosts

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker co-writer Chris Terrio explains why the film, touted as the final episode of the Skywalker Saga, chose not to include prominent characters as Force ghosts in the film's final scene. Spoilers: Skywalker ends with Rey (Daisy Ridley) visiting Tatooine, the sand-covered home planet of Anakin Skywalker (Sebastian Shaw / Hayden Christensen), and the Lars homestead, the childhood home of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), where she lays to rest lightsabers once belonging to Luke and twin sister Leia (Carrie Fisher). The twins then appear to Rey, who has adopted the Skywalker surname, as Force ghosts. Neither Anakin nor Ben Solo (Adam Driver) — returned to the light before sacrificing himself to save a lifeless Rey after her battle with Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) — appear to Rey, a decision made to keep the focus on Luke and Leia.

“We absolutely discussed who would be there at the end,” Terrio told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s not as though those Force ghosts will never appear to Rey now that she really is the first of the new Jedi. I think she has all of those Jedi behind her.”

Director and co-writer J.J. Abrams was “pretty clear about the idea that he didn’t want to take away from the moment of Leia finally appearing as a Force ghost and the twins finally being together.”

“This might be in the novelization, but we talked a lot about how Leia lost her home. Alderaan is gone. So, she could never take Luke to see where she grew up as a princess, but Luke could’ve taken Leia to see where he grew up as a farmer,” Terrio explained. “But, the twins never got to Tatooine together. So, the idea of seeing the twins together after the sabers are laid to rest felt like it was something that was very moving to me and J.J.”

Terrio added Skywalker wanted to “fulfill the promise of ‘there is another,’” referring to Yoda’s (Frank Oz) revelation of another Skywalker in Return of the Jedi.

“It has to put Leia into the Jedi pantheon. To do that without new footage of Leia was challenging, but that became the central story of Rey finishing the Jedi journey of Leia,” Terrio said of Skywalker, which repurposes unused footage captured by Abrams on The Force Awakens to send off the late Fisher’s Resistance leader Leia. “That way, by the end of the film, Leia could join Luke as a Force Ghost and spiritually join her father and all the other Jedi.”

Abrams and Terrio engaged in lengthy discussions to determine who would appear to Rey on Tatooine after a thousand generations of unseen Jedi — including Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) and Anakin — made their presence and voices felt to Rey during her time of need on Exegol, where Rey declared herself “all the Jedi.”

“While you only see the twins in that moment, we thought that would give Leia more centrality, and you would really feel the strength of seeing Leia in the Jedi afterlife for the first time,” Terrio said. “Spiritually, it’s not a crazy idea that all the Jedi would be standing with them, but it might’ve been a bit of a visual shock to see all these new characters on Tatooine who weren’t part of the story of Leia, Luke and Rey.”

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He continued, “It’s a fair question from fans because it’s a question that we debated endlessly — about what the final shot of Force ghosts would be. We spent hours and hours talking about this and debating it, and we decided that the moment when the Jedi have to be there for Rey, when it dramatically counts, is when she hears their voices. So, seeing them all at the end would be a lovely grace note, but we thought that Rey seeing her two masters, two Skywalkers, was stronger. Rey was in the unique position of having been trained by two Skywalkers, which is what’s going on in the moment where she destroys the Emperor. It’s her, Luke and Leia standing together because she’s got the two Skywalker sabers in her hands.”

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is now in theaters. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.

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