Because Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the end of the nine-movie Skywalker Saga, director J.J. Abrams says he didn't feel the need to be as secretive as he was on 2015 franchise relaunch Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That film was shrouded in mystery, introducing masked villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) — later revealed to be the corrupted son of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Leia (Carrie Fisher) — as well as the cryptic Snoke (Andy Serkis) and new hero Rey (Daisy Ridley). Asked about the "mystery box" present in much of his work, the filmmaker explains why he was less secretive on Rise of Skywalker — and why he gave away the surprise return of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) in promotional materials.
"People who are aware of the 'mystery box' thing ask about it. And I think people have different senses about what it is, as I do," Abrams told Uproxx. "For me, it's not anything I ever think about. It's not something I apply to my work. It's simply a deconstruction that any good story makes you want to know what comes next. Usually it does that by implying something."
Asked to explain the greater amount of transparency on Skywalker, Abrams said none of it was "strategic."
"But I do feel about this movie, because it is the end of something everyone knows — I don't want to be coy. I feel very confident about what the movie is," Abrams said. "And I feel like we've found a way to do something that doesn't need — and I don't feel the need — to do smoke and mirrors at all on this."
The decision also stems, at least in part, from the involvement of the late Fisher, who appears in Skywalker through the use of re-purposed footage captured by Abrams on The Force Awakens: as Abrams acknowledged at D23 Expo in August, Episode IX "needed" Leia to complete the story.
"I feel we have a story that's pretty huge in scope. While I don't want to tell the whole movie to people and ruin it and I don't want to spoil things, I feel like we need to be able to have a conversation about how, yes, Carrie Fisher appears in this movie," he said. "And I'm happy to talk about how we did it, in so much as, people know, it's really her. We didn't do a digital Carrie."
"Yes, Palpatine is in this movie. I don't want to talk about what that is and how," Abrams continued. "So I'm not unguarded, because I want to make sure people enjoy the experience when they go. But I feel, about this movie, a little more open, I guess, than I have before."
Lucasfilm and director J.J. Abrams join forces once again to take viewers on an epic journey to a galaxy far, far away with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the riveting conclusion of the seminal Skywalker saga, where new legends will be born and the final battle for freedom is yet to come.
Starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Kelly Marie Tran, Anthony Daniels, Keri Russell, Richard E. Grant, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Joonas Suotamo, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens December 20.