The Rise of Skywalker: J.J. Abrams on Fleshing Out Current Character Arcs While Properly Concluding a Nine Episode Saga
Since The Force Awakens, fans have been obsessed with Rey’s parents, where she came from, why she is so strong with the Force, perhaps so much so that we’ve overlooked the mysterious/unknown past of some of our other characters. J.J. Abrams has assured that Finn, and even Poe’s past, will be further explored in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio talk about the balancing act of fleshing out the current characters’ stories while concluding a nine episode saga.
This week Vanity Fair‘s Anthony Breznican will be rolling out his interviews and coverage of The Rise of Skywalker, and it begins today revealing that some of our other characters’ pasts will be delved into in the final chapter of the dubbed “Skywalker saga” – and J.J. Abrams said it starts with Finn.
“It is part of the story of this one. And it was alluded to in Episode VII, but there’s a bit more light shed on that in this one.”
In addition to Rey and Kylo Ren of course, Finn isn’t the only character who we’ll get a retroactive scope on who they are and where they came from. While his past has certainly been covered in books and comics, it sounds like we’ll get a bit more on Poe’s history as well. Abrams teases as much:
“I would say that each of the characters get more light shed on their histories. I’m not saying we get full, exhaustive downloads on all of their childhoods and every major step that got them to where they are. But there are a lot of questions about Finn’s past, about Poe’s past, obviously Rey and Kylo, and then some of the new characters we meet.”
A central themed focus on constructing the story for Episode IX was being “conclusive” according to co-writer Chris Terrio:
“We went into this movie very much in the mindset that this has to be conclusive. It has to. You have to get some answers. You have to learn some things.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge for movie franchises or television series is satisfying the audience with a good ending. As we’ve seen, so many shows or movie franchises have not lived up to fan hype or expectations. We live in an era where fan theories or desired outcomes dominate social media and forums, and often times those narratives journey way off the mark from what the writers had intended, which often leads to disappointment, and sometimes unruly reactions. Abrams and Terrio understand that, but know in the end, their job is to create the best story they can, to serve the saga best.
“For me personally, the fun of it is the excitement of what comes next, what comes down the line. It makes beginnings tantalizing and exciting because hopefully the audience will feel the same feeling you have, which is, Ooh, I think I know where this is going. Let’s see how we get there.”
“Endings are very difficult because they need to take everything that’s come before, in this case eight films prior, and draw it to a close. So I wanted to make sure in addition to the central story, the main character or characters, I wanted to make sure that you felt that when you were done with this film, you felt like you had some more insight into all of them. That was really important to us.”
J.J. Abrams knows there will be a percentage of fans disappointed with how it all ends, for varying reasons. We are talking about the ending of a saga that started when George Lucas put pen to paper roughly 45 years ago. That level of pressure must be unthinkable, though perhaps so big that it frees him of it. Knowing you will not be able to please everyone might be freeing enough to create the best story you can, fully cognizant of the fact that there will be backlash or disappointment. No franchise comes without its gripes from fans about its ending. To me it is inevitable, and if I can see it, Abrams and company can too. But if anyone can deliver us a satisfying conclusion, I’ll put my chips down on the guy who brought Star Wars back to life four years ago.
Tomorrow Vanity Fair will get J.J. Abrams take on the “Reylo” connection, so that should be a very intriguing read. The Rise of Skywalker opens in theaters in the United States on December 19.