J.J. Abrams appeared at Disney’s D23 Expo to promote the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker film where he revealed that Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi “didn’t really derail anything.”
Abrams spoke to Entertainment Tonight Canada, where he discussed The Rise of Skywalker. He stated, “The story that we’re telling, the story that we started to conceive when we did Force Awakens was allowed to continue. Episode 8 didn’t really derail anything that we were thinking about.”
Abrams would go on to discuss the fun of The Rise of Skywalker, “But I will say the fun of this movie is that these characters are all together on this adventure as a group. That’s the thing I was most excited about, to see the dynamic between these characters that these amazing actors play on this desperate seat of your pants adventure. That to me was the thing that was the most fun – having the group together.”
Abrams had previously told Vanity Fair that he was taking a much different approach to The Rise of Skywalker than he did with Force Awakens. (Related: J.J. Abrams on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: “F*** It I’m Going To Do The Thing That Feels Right”)
“Working on nine, I found myself approaching it slightly differently. Which is to say that, on seven, I felt beholden to Star Wars in a way that was interesting—I was doing what to the best of my ability I felt Star Wars should be.”
He then detailed his approach for The Rise of Skywalker:
“It felt slightly more renegade; it felt slightly more like, you know, F*** it, I’m going to do the thing that feels right because it does, not because it adheres to something.”
Of note, Abrams was not supposed to direct The Rise of Skywalker. He came on board the project back in September 2017 after Lucasfilm parted ways with Colin Trevorrow, who was originally supposed to direct Episode IX. Abrams comments are even more interesting given what Rian Johnson and Daisy Ridley have stated concerning the creative process on this new Star Wars trilogy. (Related: J.J. Abrams Replaces Colin Trevorrow As Writer and Director for Star Wars Episode IX!)
The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson previously described Abrams role in The Last Jedi. (Related: Rian Johnson Reveals J.J. Abrams’ Response to his Star Wars: The Last Jedi Script)
“He was really gracious, in just stepping back and giving us a blank slate to work with. The starting point was The Force Awakens script, which is quite a big, expansive, wonderful starting point. In that way, we are drawing directly from his work. But from that point forward it was a blank canvas.”
Actress Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey, revealed her take on the continuity between films in a French interview. (Related: Kathleen Kennedy: Star Wars to Map Out Next Decade of Storytelling with Rian Johnson and Game of Thrones Writers)
“Here’s what I think I know. JJ (Abrams) wrote Episode VII, as well as drafts for VIII and IX. Then Rian Johnson arrived and wrote The Last Jedi 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 realises his film in his own way. Rian Johnson and JJ 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 has to imagine that Abrams believed he was done with Star Wars following The Force Awakens. He reportedly gave Johnson a blank slate to work with and Trevorrow was supposed to pick up the pieces following The Last Jedi.
Now, Abrams is claiming he’s continuing the story he had outlined since The Force Awakens. It’s kind of hard to believe, especially if Johnson threw out the first draft of Episode VIII and didn’t use any of Abrams’ notes.
It’s possible, Abrams might ignore Johnson’s The Last Jedi in The Rise of Skywalker similar to how he ignored pretty much all of Star Wars canon in The Last Jedi. It’s also possible Abrams might be trying to pay lip service to the idea that Lucasfilm and Disney had a plan altogether despite all the statements to the contrary.
What do you make of Abrams’ recent comments? Do you think this will continue his story from The Force Awakens? Do you think the film will have any connection to The Last Jedi at all?