Earlier in September, Daisy Ridley was interviewed by Josh Gad on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, talking about what she’s been up to but also talking a bit about Star Wars.
You can check out the whole interview here, and it’s just really great to hear from Ridley again, but the relevant portion for our purposes is when she was asked about having to keep the secrets with Star Wars about her family. Gad asked if that was a secret she had to keep from the beginning of the trilogy, and she said it was not:
“No. At the beginning, there was toying with like a Obi-Wan connection, there were like different versions, and then it went to that she was no one, and then it came to Episode 9 and J.J. [Abrams] pitched me the film and was like, ‘oh, yeah, Palpatine’s [your] granddaddy,’ and I was like, ‘Awesome,’ and then two weeks later he was like, ‘Oh, but not sure.’ So it kept changing. So then [we were] filming and I wasn’t sure what the answer was going to be.”
That quote got a lot of people talking, and it’s not hard to see why. A couple of things to take away from this:
1. Rey being related to Obi-Wan Kenobi was considered. One of the more common theories that fans had was that Rey was a Kenobi, and so here Ridley confirms that it was indeed being considered at one point. Keep in mind, though, that there’s a big difference between it being considered and it being the plan. I don’t think we can read much more into this besides the fact that she is confirming that it was one of the options. The fact that she mentions it here is probably noteworthy and probably means that it was a legitimate option that was being considered, but there’s no indication that was ever the working plan.
2. Speaking of plan, there wasn’t one. One of the biggest criticisms of the sequel trilogy has been that it didn’t have a plan. To be honest, I don’t really share that criticism as much; after all, George Lucas didn’t exactly have the original trilogy planned out, yet it turned out ok. More important than an overall plan is having filmmakers who can take the stories and run with them, adding to them. It doesn’t sound like they ever came to a firm conclusion on Rey’s lineage when filming The Force Awakens, so Rian Johnson took over with the ability to run with one of the many options set up in the previous film. He chose one and ran with it… and then J.J. Abrams decided he wanted to choose a different option. If anything, it’s that latter choice that really could have been helped with a plan, but I truly don’t think it’s as big of a deal as many do.
3. The Palpatine connection wasn’t officially decided until after filming was underway. To me, the most interesting and surprising part of Ridley’s statement was that there was still uncertainty regarding the Rey and Palpatine connection even after filming on The Rise of Skywalker was underway. We’ve known that the movie underwent a lot of changes in the process (which isn’t a rarity for J.J. Abrams), but this is the first time we realized that one of the major plot points was still a bit uncertain. Granted, Abrams seemed to have already decided to take it in that direction only to begin re-visiting it, but it just seems crazy to me that they would begin this final film without even having a really good and final sense of Rey’s family.