In a few short weeks, the final installment in the Skywalker saga will finally hit theaters. After helming 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams is back in the director’s chair for The Rise of Skywalker. The new movie will pick up where Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi left off, a film that took audiences by surprise by defying expectations and delivering plenty of unexpected twists and turns.
Because The Last Jedi’s story was such a surprise, fans might wonder how the Rian Johnson film affected Abrams’ initial plans, and the trajectory of Episode IX. However, in a new interview with Esquire, Abrams revealed that, in actuality, The Last Jedi didn’t change anything.
“There were some choices that made things a bit more fun for us,” Abrams said, “because, for example, Rian didn’t have the whole group collaborative adventure of it together, and that was really fun to get to tell the story of the group, the droids, out on one breakneck, crazy, desperate adventure. You know?”
He added that he loved Johnson's choices as a fan of Star Wars, noting that it was exciting to read someone else's take on the new world he helped create.
Abrams concluded, “As a filmmaker, working on Episode IX, amazingly, nothing that he did in Last Jedi got in the way of things that we had talked about wanting to do down the line, ideas that I had about where things might go, so... it wasn’t like his story somehow derailed the things I wanted to pursue. In fact, strangely, they might have even helped strengthen them because we got to make some choices that sort of take advantage of the fact that Rian hadn’t done the things that we were thinking about doing.”
Directed and co-written by J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Keri Russell, Matt Smith, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams and Carrie Fisher, with Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant. The film arrives on Dec. 20.