Creating a script can take a writer on an unpredictable journey, with the characters themselves sometimes taking the narrative into an organic direction. While The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson might not have known exactly where the story was headed when he began writing it, he did confirm that an early decision he made centered around Luke's ultimate fate.
"It was very early on. I felt like everything was leading there," Johnson explained to Variety of the decision that Luke would become one with the Force. "I slowly brought it up in conversation. But it was a genuine conversation, nobody freaked out. They were like, 'Hmm, let's talk about why that needs to happen.' So we started talking."
The filmmaker revealed that he didn't come to this decision lightly, but felt it was the only direction the story could go.
"For me, there were a lot of reasons. This is very much Luke's story, about accepting the mantle of 'Luke Skywalker,' as a legend that inspires the galaxy," Johnson pointed out. "He asks at the beginning: What can one guy with a lightsaber do? And the answer is 'Not much.' But the 'Legend of Luke Skywalker,' spreading hope across the galaxy, can do quite a lot. So his huge decision to come back and take that on his shoulders — I knew that would be the conclusion of the movie. And I knew it was a potent place for him to have this big moment, if you're going to build up a huge head of emotional steam, let's serve this moment and really give him his due."
Given the nature of Jedi and how they've been known to cross over into a different realm and are never actually "gone," Johnson teased that Episode IX could potentially utilize the character, albeit in a different capacity.
"I don't know where the next movie is going to go. J.J. [Abrams] and Chris Terrio are writing it right now. But it seemed like the potential of Luke crossing into new realm — that offers exciting possibilities for the role he plays in the coming chapter," Johnson admitted. "No one's ever really gone."
The upcoming installment will surely feature a slightly different trajectory from some of the early conversations surrounding this new trilogy of films, as Mark Hamill claimed back in October that The Force Awakens would focus on Han Solo, The Last Jedi would focus on Luke and Episode IX was meant to focus on Leia. With the passing of Carrie Fisher, Episode IX could venture down numerous different paths.
You can see The Last Jedi in theaters now.