Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Director Is "Nothing But Grateful" for Rian Johnson's Last Jedi

The development of the Star Wars sequel trilogy has been drastically different from the development of the original and prequel trilogies, as each film has been developed by a different creative team, though Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams recently shared his appreciation for what Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson did with his film. George Lucas oversaw the overall narrative thread of the original six films and, while Lucasfilm signed off on all of the creative decisions made by the filmmakers in the sequel trilogy, the timing of the films and their releases has resulted in some audiences thinking the films lack the cohesion of its preceding trilogies.

“Rian is an incredibly talented director. I don’t know if you’ve seen Knives Out but I loved it," Abrams shared with Yahoo Entertainment's Kevin Polowy. "Just an incredibly talented guy and a great storyteller. So when he came on to work on the next film, and we were just starting to shoot [Star Wars: The Force Awakens], I was really excited to see where he would go and what he would do. And it’s funny because one of the things that I was [thinking] at first [was], ‘Oh, I really want to see all the friends together.’ And in his story, they really weren’t. [Rey] doesn’t really meet Poe until the end. Rey and Finn are not really together in the movie."

He added, "So, in a way, the story that he told, in a lot of ways helped set up what we were doing in IX. But it also allowed Episode IX to have the group together and out on an adventure in a way that was weirdly, even though it’s the third film, it’s the first time they all get to be together.”

In the two years since it was released, fans have been divided on The Last Jedi, with some praising its bold choices to expand the conception of the franchise while others chided it for deviating from their expectations. While the cast and crew have regularly been praising the film and its accomplishments, recent comments made by Abrams and star John Boyega in which they express their issues with that film have been used by some fans to validate their disappointment with the sequel.

Abrams has regularly said how Johnson deviated from the choices he would have personally made, though he expressed his appreciation for what those decisions mean for The Rise of Skywalker.

“But there were a lot of details [and] story points that Rian set up in Last Jedi that [we] run with in this movie," the filmmaker noted. "I don’t think this movie would’ve been nearly what it is without the choices that Rian made, so I’m nothing but grateful.”

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker lands in theaters on December 20th.

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