Warning: Full spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker below!
The parentage of Daisy Ridley's character Rey has been a hotly debated topic since before the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This debate naturally escalated with the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and its reveal that Rey's parents were in fact "no one." Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker once again kicked it into high gear with a reveal of not only Rey's parents, but their lineage as well. The ninth film in the Skywalker saga revealed that Rey's father was the son of Emperor Palpatine, but director J.J. Abrams made sure to cast a fan-favorite new actress in the role of her mother with Killing Eve star Jodie Comer taking on the part. She was joined by Dunkirk and Outlaw King actor Billy Howle as Rey's father.
The most surprising thing about Comer's role in the film is that they managed to keep it entirely a secret. No casting reports were leaked that indicated her involvement and no Hollywood trades reported that she was attached. Her total time on screen is perhaps less than 20 seconds and boils down to a cameo, which certainly made it easier. In the time that filming took place for The Rise of Skywalker, Comer was primarily busy filming the hit BBC series which she stars in and for which she won a Primetime Emmy Award, so for her to have been on a studio lot in England would not have been a stretch. Details about how and when she landed the part, along with how they kept it a secret, have not yet been disclosed, but it's only a matter of time before we learn how they pulled it off.
According to co-writer Chris Terrio, the idea to give Rey a lineage that spring from the "Dark Side" had been the plan all along for the sequel. Terrio went on to talk about the thought process behind specifically making it Palpatine, saying:
"As J.J. said, it would almost be weird for Palpatine not to be in some way in this movie. Because when we discover Rey, she's literally living in the wreck of the old war, the previous war, that literally the landscape of Jakku is scarred with evidence of the war that came before. I think what we wanted to say in this is that, that war never really ended. Yes, there was the victory of the greatest generation, the revolutionary generation, and that was a real victory and balance was achieved for a time, but every generation has to fight for the balance again. We were moved by the idea that the person who should have to fight to regain the balance that Anakin Skywalker gained was the descendant of his greatest enemy who corrupted Anakin Skywalker in the first place."
Whether Jodie Comer's character will one day be featured in a Star Wars story at some point down the line remains to be seen, but having a cameo that integral to the core of the new Star Wars movies is great for the actress who has gained international acclaim for her role as the playful assassin Villanelle.
Comer made more Star Wars headlines recently unrelated to her role the film, instead with her Golden Globes outfit reminding fans of none other than Baby Yoda from The Mandalorian. The actress can next be seen starring opposite Ryan Reynolds in the action-comedy Free Guy. Killing Eve is also set to return for a third and fourth season in the near future.