The discourse over Rey’s parents in the Star Wars sequel trilogy has been a near-constant talking point online in the Star Wars fandom since The Force Awakens released in 2015, and it only escalated with the answers revealed in The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.
There’s no shortage of opinions out there on it, but there does seem to be a shortage of reasoned analysis of what messages were actually being sent. Thankfully, however, Daisy Ridley understands it.
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Ridley was asked about how the reveal of Rey’s parents played out over The Rise of Skywalker and what her thoughts were on it. Here’s what she said:
“Well, J.J. [Abrams] was the one who was like, she is of no one, so it wasn’t just ‘The Last Jedi’ where that was the message. What was interesting about the last one, for me, was that you can be a hero and not come from anywhere or you can be a hero and come from literally the worst person in the universe. You’re not your parents, you’re not your grandparents, you’re not your bloodline and you’re not the generations before you. So, I always was like, sure.
“But it’s beyond my pay grade. I say the words, do the thing. I do love the version of, you can be anyone you want to be, but I also love the version where you can rectify wrongs and can’t help what you’re born into.”
In saying this, Ridley proves that she understands exactly what the filmmakers of the sequel trilogy were trying to do, and I’m grateful for her explaining it this way. It’s clear that she’s not really trying to take sides on this, and it’s also clear that she’s not really upset about what direction things took, but she articulates the messaging behind these decisions. One of the things that has frustrated me over the last decade is how people on all sides of the Rey parentage debate seemed to be oblivious to the actual intent behind the decisions.
For example, those who didn’t like The Last Jedi‘s reveal that Rey was nobody thought that there was no reason for her to be that powerful if she wasn’t connected to someone significant, but they missed the fact that it was precisely the point: that your significance doesn’t come from your connection to a previous bloodline but from the choices you make. But then when The Rise of Skywalker came around, the people who didn’t like the reveal that Rey was a Palpatine thought that it undermined the significance of her chosen destiny rather than one forced on her, but they missed the fact that it was precisely the point: that no matter your past or your family, you can make a choice to be better.
So, as Ridley notes, the key theme is that Rey has a choice. Whether she’s a nobody or a Palpatine, she makes the choice to embrace her own destiny rather than one given to her by her family. In both of them we might wonder why she embraced the light of the Jedi, but in both of them we come to the answer: because she’s pulled to the light. It’s as simple as that! It’s not about a person’s past, a person’s family, or a person’s lineage, whether that person’s family was nobody significant in the galactic war or the phantom menace behind it all. Rey embraces her own destiny, choosing a new family, and moves toward the light. That is precisely the point, and it’s the point that both J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson are driving at.
This isn’t going to solve any of the issues that people have with either of the answers, but the Star Wars community is in desperate need of the kind of reasonable, nuanced analysis that Ridley provides here. That’s rare – even for actors in the franchise – and it’s refreshing. To see one of the stars not just airing their grievances by picking up some of the low-hanging fruit of internet discourse but instead taking the time to explain why these things were done and how they might make sense is great. Daisy Ridley gets it, and I’m glad.