Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Writer Denies “Argument” With Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi

First time Star Wars screenwriter Chris Terrio, who penned The Rise of Skywalker with director J.J. Abrams, denies beliefs the film took swipes at the Rian Johnson-directed The Last Jedi. In Skywalker, the closing chapter of the sequel trilogy, Abrams course corrects or walks back key plot points in The Last Jedi, including — spoilers — the revelation that Rey (Daisy Ridley), the last hope of the Jedi, is a descendant of Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), contradicting Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) telling her she's a “nobody.” Elsewhere, the once-bitter Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) — who discarded his lightsaber and renounced the Jedi before he became one with the Force — is depicted here as a Force ghost who tells Rey “a Jedi’s weapon deserves more respect” when she attempts to toss her lightsaber as Luke did in Last Jedi.

“Those people who see it as a meta-argument between J.J. and Rian are missing the point, I think. At the end of The Last Jedi, Luke has changed,” Terrio told The Hollywood Reporter. “When people look at that, I feel that they misread the ending of The Last Jedi. Throughout The Last Jedi, Luke is stuck, just as so many of the characters in The Empire Strikes Back were stuck. The Falcon’s hyperdrive is literally stuck. The Last Jedi is a really strong middle act because it seems like everyone is spinning their wheels and stuck in certain ways — just as they are in The Empire Strikes Back. I mean that in the sense of everyone is trying to move forward, but as in any middle act, they can’t quite get there.”

Luke’s line about respecting the lightsaber is “Luke speaking,” not the filmmakers, Terrio noted.

“That’s his own character. He’s making fun of himself. He’s saying to Rey, ‘Please don’t make the same mistake that I did,’” he explained. “That’s another theme of the film. How do we learn from our ancestors? How do we learn from our parents? How do we learn from the previous generation? How do we learn from all the good things that they did but not repeat their mistakes?”

The scene on Ahch-To “truly is a character moment because we quite deliberately set up the same situation of tossing a saber, but this time, Luke is there to save Rey from making a bad choice.”

“I think it would be a bad misreading to think that that was somehow me and J.J. having an argument with Rian,” Terrio added. “It was more like we were in dialogue with Rian by using what Luke did at the beginning of The Last Jedi to now say that history will not repeat itself and all these characters have grown.”

The Rise of Skywalker editor and longtime Abrams collaborator Maryann Brandon previously admitted The Last Jedi presented “a lot of challenges in terms of where Episode IX had to go to finish the saga,” and Terrio himself said in a previous interview the sudden death of Snoke (Andy Serkis) in The Last Jedi made telling Kylo's story in Skywalker “tricky.”

When addressing accusations Skywalker intentionally sidelined Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), who first appeared in The Last Jedi, Terrio explained technical issues raised by the posthumous appearance of Carrie Fisher's Leia forced Skywalker to cut many of her scenes. According to Terrio, many of those scenes with Leia involved Rose.

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Abrams earlier said he was “grateful” to Johnson when making Skywalker, telling Yahoo, “There were a lot of details [and] story points that Rian set up in Last Jedi that [we] run with in this movie. 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.”

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is now in theaters.

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