A common criticism of the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy thus far is that there doesn’t seem to be an overall plan put in place by Lucasfilm for a clear narrative arc. But in a new interview, Daisy Ridley reveals that the opposite is true, and that J. J. Abrams came up with a general plan for the story of The Last Jedi and Episode IX – although Johnson would ultimately deviate from said plan as he developed his script.
In an interview with the French publication Le Magazine GEEK (which has been translated thanks to the efforts of Tumblr user daisyridleys), Daisy Ridley was asked about whether or not Rey’s backstory had been decided before The Force Awakens wrapped or if it had been resolved with The Last Jedi. Ridley herself didn’t seem to know the answer to that specific question, so she explained what she understood about the overall writing process:
“Here’s what I think I know. J. J. wrote Episode VII, as well as drafts for VIII & IX. Then Rian Johnson arrived and wrote TLJ entirely. I believe there was some sort of general consensus on the main lines of the trilogy, but apart from that, every director writes and realizes his film in his own way. Rian Johnson and J. J. Abrams met to discuss all of this, although Episode VIII is still his very own work. I believe Rian didn’t keep anything from the first draft of Episode VIII.”
One thing that we know was in both Abrams and Johnson’s respective drafts was the idea that Luke Skywalker went into hiding because he was depressed over something that went wrong earlier in his life before Rey would convince him to get back in the fight – as was the case with George Lucas’ original pitch for Episode VII. So presumably, other ideas from the unseen Abrams draft of the script of Episode VIII are in the movie as well, in spite of Ridley’s comment suggesting that Johnson threw everything out, especially considering that he consulted with Abrams about the story itself, and that Abrams later praised the script and stated that he wished he could have directed it.
But it’s also not a stretch to imagine that the creative process for The Last Jedi ultimately took Johnson in a different direction than expected. The Force Awakens in and of itself underwent a handful of rewrites and the opening sequence was overhauled more than once, so while a general plan may be in place, there’s more than enough room for creators to take some liberties and make a little of it up as things went along. With Abrams back on board with Episode IX, it’s likely that the story elements he thought up for his version of events will be adapted into the story following revisions necessitated by the changes that The Last Jedi brought and the death of Carrie Fisher.
It will certainly be interesting to see where the story heads after The Last Jedi, considering that the movie – along with the decision to not put Leia in Episode IX – wrapped up a number of plot points and left a number of others in question. There will presumably be a time skip between the latter two movies if they want to tell more stories in this era, which might also help them with the issue of figuring out how to resolve Leia’s story offscreen. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
For the full interview with Daisy Ridley make sure to go to daisyridleys.