When Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiered two years ago, fans were surprised to learn that Rey was the central character of the story.
After all, the marketing all hinted that former Stromtrooper Finn would be the focal point, especially when all the imagery showed him wielding the lightsaber. But the mysterious scavenger from Jakku has been positioned as the torchbearer of the saga, continuing the Skywalker saga through her conflict with the villainous Kylo Ren.
Writer and director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi Rian Johnson spoke about continuing Rey's journey in the new film, and why her relationship with Kylo Ren is integral for pushing the narrative forward.
"With each of them, there were things that I really responded to in The Force Awakens," said Johnson in a discussion with StarWars.com. "Both individually as characters, and also in their interaction in the interrogation scene that they have in The Force Awakens. I thought the dynamic between them was very interesting and the opposing forces, flint striking off each other with the two of them, combined with this power on opposite sides that they both share, was very interesting."
Johnson previously referred to the characters as "dual protagonists," and now he's shedding light on how their relationship will evolve in the new film.
"It's not just a big, open study of their characters. It's a narrative, so another big part of it was figuring out how we feel about each of them coming out of Force Awakens and into this film," Johnson said. "Again, it's not a big canvas. It's a line that's going forward and you're following a path step by step. You know, we hate Kylo's guts coming into this. [Laughs] He's interesting because the villain is always interesting, but also because, I think, you can see his flaws and his vulnerabilities."
Kylo is also coming off of a losing battle against the supposed scavenger, someone without even a fraction of the training Kylo Ren has endured.
"He gets his ass kicked. He has his butt handed to him, absolutely, by someone who should not have been able to hand him his butt. [Laughs] So he's in a very different place than Vader, but I think we hate him maybe even more than we hate Vader coming into this."
Johnson also talked about how he had to shape Luke Skywalker's reason for exiling himself around Kylo Ren's past and Rey's future, needing the last Jedi's traits as a mentor to play off of her own sensibilities.
We'll find out how Luke, Rey, and Kylo Ren collide when Star Wars: The Last Jedi finally premieres in theaters this Friday, December 15.