Ever since Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit theaters, a big question on fans’ minds has been regarding Rey’s parentage. Daisy Ridley’s Rey is, of course, the protagonist of this new trilogy, and in The Force Awakens it’s revealed that she was orphaned as a child by her real parents, who remain hidden from view. When Rian Johnson picked up the baton for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, he came up with an answer to that question, and the answer is Rey’s parents are people of no importance. As revealed in the dramatic Rey/Kylo Ren scene, they were junkers; nobodies. This is played as a crushing fact that Rey always knew deep down, and one Kylo tries to use to lure her to join him in creating a New World Order.
But the revelation backfires. Rey’s parents aren’t important. What’s important is who she is now and what she’s capable of—she’s a “nobody” who rose to prominence to become a powerful Jedi. That in and of itself is a powerful story, and it’s the one Johnson chose to tell.
However, fans have been curious as to whether this was Abrams’ intention when he first introduced the idea of Rey’s orphanage in The Force Awakens. We know there was no overarching plan for the trilogy that Johnson had to stick to, and so he picked up where The Force Awakens left off and crafted his own continuation of the story. But as Simon Pegg tells it on Josh Horowitz’s Happy Sad Confused podcast, The Last Jedi’s answer to the “Who are Rey’s parents?” question may have undone what Abrams was at least thinking about doing with that particular thread:
“Well I know what J.J. kind of intended, or at least what was sort of being chucked around. I think that’s kind of been undone slightly by [The Last Jedi]. I don’t know. I don’t know (laughs). I think Unkar Plutt is Rey’s real father.”
Pegg obviously played Unkar Plutt in The Force Awakens, but he also contributed a bit to the script here and there so he would know what ideas were being bandied about on set. And he goes further to say that the answer they were toying with would have been one of greater importance:
“There was some talk about, you know, a kind of relevant lineage for her. But I honestly don’t know, and I don’t know if anybody knows. We shall see.”
Nothing’s set in stone per se, and just as Johnson picked up the baton from Abrams and ran with it, Abrams is now picking up the baton from Johnson and crafting Episode IX on his own. It’s possible he retroactively undoes The Last Jedi’s answer, and it’s also possible he doubles down on what Johnson came up with. I’m personally of the opinion that making Rey someone of important lineage is unexciting, so I’m hoping we stick with what was introduced in The Last Jedi.
The wide-ranging podcast with Pegg is worth a listen, and the noted Star Wars superfan reveals that his feelings on the franchise have become a bit less passionate since actually working on and being in a Star Wars movie—the mystery is gone:
“When I saw The Force Awakens I had an odd sense of ennui during it. I felt kind of disappointed and I couldn’t figure out why. It ended at the premiere and I felt down and I was like, ‘Why do I feel down?’ And I realized it was because I’d been in it, I’d read the script, and I’d even contributed a little bit to the script here and there, so I’d been involved in it so it wasn’t a big surprise. So I watched the movie knowing everything that was gonna happen, so when that big thing happens to one of our favorite-ever characters, it wasn’t a surprise. I realized that the payoff for being in it was to have the experience of seeing it removed, and I wouldn’t swap that because it was an amazing experience, but it was a strange one.”