One of the big questions regarding Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker—aside from “will it be good?”—is certainly how J.J. Abrams’ take on this story differs from Colin Trevorrow’s take on the same movie. Indeed, Trevorrow was the first filmmaker hired to tackle Star Wars 9, coming onboard way back in 2015 on the heels of launching Jurassic World. Trevorrow worked with his frequent collaborator Derek Connolly to write the script, but after a couple of years on the project, word surfaced that the script was in trouble in 2017, at which point Lucasfilm brought on Jack Thorne to perform a rewrite. That didn’t go very far, as a month later Trevorrow departed the project entirely over creative differences, at which point Lucasfilm asked Abrams if he’d consider taking over the film.
Abrams brought on Oscar-winning Argo screenwriter Chris Terrio to co-write what would become The Rise of Skywalker, and at the time those involved seemed to indicate that they were starting from scratch. However, we recently learned that Trevorrow and Connolly have earned a “story by” credit following WGA arbitration, meaning at least some sort of vestige of their plans for Star Wars 9 remains in Abrams’ film.
As for what Trevorrow’s version of Star Wars 9 was, the filmmaker isn’t quite keen on saying just yet, but in an interview with Empire he did reveal one fascinating detail: Emperor Palpatine was not in his script:
“Bringing back the Emperor was an idea JJ brought to the table when he came on board,” Trevorrow says. “It’s honestly something I never considered. I commend him for it. This was a tough story to unlock, and he found the key.”
The return of the Emperor caught many fans off guard, but Abrams has been driving home the point that Rise of Skywalker will serve as an end point not just to this sequel trilogy, but to the entire Skywalker Saga as a whole. So it appears as though Palpatine figures significantly into how he plans to tie all nine movies together.
While Trevorrow tells Empire he’s happy that fans will get to see some of his and Connolly’s ideas, he’s not ready to spill re: what his take on Episode IX was:
“That’s not my place, especially right now,” says Trevorrow. “I know how hard this crew has worked over the past two years, a lot of them are working with us now on Jurassic. I want to support them as they put this film out into the world. In the end, I’m just proud to have my name in space.”
The Book of Henry filmmaker did, however, reveal the one request he made of Rian Johnson for The Last Jedi when he was still working on Star Wars 9:
“I just asked Rian if he could include a little moment where Rey and Poe meet for the first time,” he says. “They’re such beloved characters, it felt right for them to have some history in the next movie. I thought the way he did it was perfect.”
While I’m excited to see what Abrams and Terrio have come up with here, as a fan of alternative film history, I’m also really hoping we’ll someday learn what Trevorrow and Connolly’s vision for the film was. Somewhere there exists not just drafts of screenplays, but no doubt concept art for an entirely different version of The Rise of Skywalker, and I am very curious to know what that entailed.