Rian Johnson Claims Han Solo Will Play an Integral Role in The Last Jedi

When Star Wars returns to theaters with episode eight in December, Han Solo will be back, too — [...]

When Star Wars returns to theaters with episode eight in December, Han Solo will be back, too — in a way. Says writer and director Ryan Johnson, Han's presence will be felt through the Force Awakens sequel.

"Han, the ghost of — well, not literally [laughs]. I don't want to misguide. I have to be very careful with my words here," Johnson shared with EW. "But a figurative ghost of Han had to be present throughout this entire film."

Towards the end of The Force Awakens, the corrupted Ben Solo / Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) — son of Han (Harrison Ford) and Leia (Carrie Fisher) — murdered his father, the wannabe Sith driving his unstable lightsaber through the old smuggler's chest.

It's an act, says Daisy Ridley, that was unconscionable.

"She just doesn't understand Kylo," said Ridley, who plays orphaned scavenger-turned-potential Jedi Rey. "When all she wanted was parents, why would a person who has parents do that? It's so beyond comprehension, it's ridiculous. So she has grief for the loss and then there's anger. To be honest, she couldn't understand doing something like that – let alone to your parents."

Rey will struggle with the loss of her newly found father-figure (now having a personal grudge against her Darth Vader-aspiring archenemy), just as Kylo will have to deal with the personal and emotional ramifications of his patricide. Despite Han's loss to the Resistance and those involved in the showdown at Starkiller base — Chewbacca, Finn (John Boyega), Kylo, and Rey — Han's legacy will live on in The Last Jedi. Just not quite literally. (No, Han won't be returning as a Force ghost.)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the second film in the new Star Wars sequel trilogy that began with Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015. The film will deal with Luke training Rey to become a, and possibly the last, Jedi. Meanwhile, the Resistance, including Poe Dameron and First Order defector Finn, continues to fight against the First Order, led by General Hux, while Supreme Leader Snoke and his Dark Side follower Kylo Ren continue their mysterious plot. The film is written and directed by Rian Johnson and stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis, Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, and Kelly Marie Tran.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters December 15th, 2017.