J.J. Abrams on Rey’s Parents in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’: “There’s More to the Story”

     April 18, 2019

It appears the debate over Rey’s parents will indeed continue in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Ever since Daisy Ridley’s Rey was introduced as our new protagonist in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, fans have speculated that she’s somehow a relative of the Skywalkers. That’s a fair assumption given that the protagonist of both the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy is a Skywalker, but this new trilogy has appeared to veer off in new and interesting directions, so there remained the possibility that Rey was not, in fact, a Skywalker.

Confirmation of Rey’s lack of Skywalker blood seemingly came in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, when during an intense confrontation with Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren (aka Ben Solo), Kylo tells Rey her parents were nobodies, noting that she’s always known deep down that she doesn’t hail from any “special” lineage. Rey seemed to accept this, and the answer fit thematically with The Last Jedi’s idea that you don’t have to hail from privilege or noble blood to save the galaxy.

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General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) in STAR WARS: EPISDOE IX

And yet, some fans were not satisfied with this answer and hoped that Episode IX would reveal that Kylo Ren was lying in The Last Jedi, thereby changing Rey to someone of some “importance.” While Abrams has been tight-lipped about what will or won’t be revealed in Star Wars 9, he curiously said during an interview with ABC News that there’s “more to the story” with regards to Rey’s parents:

“I will say that we knew going into this that this movie had to be a satisfying conclusion, and we’re well aware that [Rey’s parentage is] one of the things that’s sort of been out there. I don’t want to say that what happens in Episode VIII—you know, we’ve honored that. But I will say there’s more to the story than you’ve seen.”

Abrams stops short of saying that they won’t be negating the revelations in The Last Jedi with regards to Rey’s parents, but it’s interesting that he says Rise of Skywalker will “honor” what The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson did with Rey’s character in that film. Of course, it’s also interesting that he says there’s more to the story than we’ve seen.

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Image via Lucasfilm

With The Force Awakens, Abrams did what he does best: ask intriguing questions. The same was true of the Lost pilot, for which he and Damon Lindelof threw in a bunch of mysterious attributes without exactly knowing how they would pay off. In Force Awakens, there was a flashback to young Rey being left alone on Jakku, and then also that weird trippy sequence when she touches Luke’s lightsaber for the first time. It’s possible that Abrams had some specific answers in mind when crafting that intriguing footage, and that could be what he’s referring to when he says there’s more to the story “than you’ve seen.”

Additionally, there’s been some confusion over the years as to whether Abrams knew who Rey’s parents were while making The Force Awakens. As part of a 2017 Rolling Stone profile, Abrams said he told Ridley who Rey’s parents were on the set of The Force Awakens, and that it ended up being the same answer that Johnson came to while writing The Last Jedi:

Unlike almost everyone else in the world, Ridley has known for years who Rey’s parents are, since Abrams told her on the set of The Force Awakens. Ridley believes that nothing ever changed: “I thought what I was told in the beginning is what it is.” Which is odd, because Johnson insists he had free rein to come up with any answer he wanted to the question. “I wasn’t given any directive as to what that had to be,” he says. “I was never given the information that she is this or she is that.”

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Image via Lucasfilm

Subsequently, in April 2018, Simon Pegg—who not only played Unkar Plutt in The Force Awakens but also served as an uncredited story consultant for Abrams on the film—maintained that Abrams had a different answer for Rey’s parents than the one in The Last Jedi:

“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.”

It’s unclear which of these two stories is “true”, and it’s also possible that when Abrams signed on to co-write and direct Star Wars 9 that he changed his mind. The Force Awakens certainly went through a tumultuous period of upheaval and major story changes, so it makes sense that years in between films—and the act of actually seeing The Last Jedi—could have spurred a better idea in Abrams’ head.

All this being said, I’m going to be incredibly bummed if The Rise of Skywalker makes some grand revelation that Rey is Ben’s secret sister, or that she’s Luke Skywalker’s long lost lovechild. The thematic impact of The Last Jedi works so well specifically because Rey is a “nobody,” and to suddenly turn her into a Noble Hero kind of undercuts her arc throughout this entire trilogy.

So we’ll see. Many questions remain, and I’m sure some questions will still linger by the end of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. What say you, folks? Are you down with Abrams retconning The Last Jedi and turning Rey into a Skywalker, or would you rather he stick with Rey as a “nobody” and flesh her character out from there? Sound off in the comments below.

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