Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is the final chapter of the epic nine-film story arc that took over 40 years to complete. Though each generation has its trilogy, the entire Skywalker Saga belongs to everyone who has been a part of the Star Wars pantheon in any sort of capacity, whether it is through the films, TV series, video games, books, etc. Of course, fans will be interested in seeing how it will all come to an end and if it will meet or exceed their high expectations.
While Geeks of Doom and a group of selected journalists were able attend a press conference for Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, where the cast and crew talked about the film’s legacy and what they would like to leave behind knowing that they are the ones to close the book on the Skywalker saga. Check out what they had to say here below.
Director J.J. Abrams immediately recognized the pressures that Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker had as it would bring an epic conclusion to over 40 years’ worth of storytelling. Though it has only been four years since he directed The Force Awakens, he says the difference between now and then is that the pressure has shifted, because he, Disney, and Lucasfilm did not know what kind of film they would have when they started this endeavor with Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac.
“This is wrapping up not one film, not three films, but nine,” Abrams said. “The responsibility was significant and the movie. The scale of the movie is pretty enormous, and we knew none of that would matter and none of that would work if we didn’t care deeply about the people. So the most important thing, the people, we were good with. We knew we had this incredible cast who I think has gone above and beyond anyone’s expectations and are truly spectacular in the film.”
And if there is anything a Star Wars film has, it is a combination of action, drama, heart, and humor. Finding someone who can balance that throughout the entirety of one film is difficult, and it is one of the reasons why Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy wanted Abrams to return because she believed he was one of those who could find that balance and bring the saga to a satisfying conclusion.
“The one thing I know about Star Wars and the one thing I know about these kinds of tentpole movies is this unique combination of needing dramatic storytelling, gravitas, and a great sense of humor,” Kennedy said. “I think there are a few filmmakers that really embody all of those things and also have the capability to manage something this huge, and J.J. was my first choice.”
Abrams then talked about how Star Wars, as a whole, was something more than just another blockbuster tentpole popcorn flick. It was something that represented hope in a time of despair when the underdog had their backs against the wall, and it was about bringing people together.
“I like to think that when you are working on something, especially something, and I say something like this as if these kinds of things come along all the time, and they never do, and I am still grateful for that call from Kathy, the truth is that there is the movie that you know you’re presenting to the world, and then there is the thing that you are doing not necessarily secretly but meaningfully,” Abrams said. “We live in a crazy world. We live in a crazy time. Star Wars for me was about hope, it was about community, it was about the underdog, and it was about bringing people together.”
While Star Wars has been a huge part of everyone’s lives, there is no doubt the franchise wouldn’t be where it is today without its core characters from the Original Trilogy. One of those characters is Princess Leia, who was played by the late Carrie Fisher. Though she may not have been alive to see her character’s story completed, Kelly Marie Tran, who plays Rose Tico, spoke about what Fisher meant to the franchise, the new trilogy, and how they felt it was their duty to make sure they do it right.
“I can only speak for myself, there is sort of this idea that J.J. has talked about ending this in nine films, and Carrie was such a big part of all that,” Tran said. “So, I think for me, personally, there was a lot of wanting to honor this thing and do right by this thing. And I think she is pretty effing incredible in this movie.”
And Leia was always going to be an intricate part to the new trilogy, with her role increasing with every film. Though she passed before production for The Rise Of Skywalker could start, Abrams had another plan to have her be a part of the film. One that would not involve cheap gimmicks like holograms or superimpose.
“Like everyone here who knew her, loved Carrie, and I knew her for a long time but not very well, but for a while before The Force Awakens,” Abrams said. “Obviously, as we discussed continuing the story without Leia was an impossibility, and there was no way we were going to do a digital Leia, there was no way we were going to of course recast her, but we couldn’t do it without her. So when we looked back the scenes we didn’t use in The Force Awakens, what we realized is that we had an opportunity and we could use that footage and the lines that she was saying and the lighting…”
“We knew we had the opportunity to use the footage to create scenes that Leia would be in. Of course, had Carrie been around, and it is still impossible for me to believe she isn’t because we have been editing with her for about a year, and she has been very much alive with us in every scene. If we had Carrie around, would we have done things differently here and there? Of course, we would have. But we had an opportunity to have Carrie in the movie. Working with all the actors, including Billie Lourd, her daughter, who’s in scenes with her, we were able to, I think, do something Carrie herself would be happy with. She’s great in the movie, of course. It’s emotional and moving to think of her and how sad we all are that she’s not sitting here with us today.”
For Anthony Daniels, who has plays C-3PO, being a part of all three trilogies has given him a very unique perspective on the iconic cinematic franchise.
“I just realized, in the last few months, something that I haven’t gotten before because I have been in all the movies. The questions I really don’t like is ‘what was it like?’ or ‘how does it feel to be in Star Wars?’ Well, I only just realized because I have been in all of them and all of the spinoffs and stuff, I am so close to it it’s like having your nose up against the planet. You can’t see how big the planet is. And gradually I am beginning to get a perspective on it and that comes from talking to fans and people who say what Star Wars meant to them. It has meant something completely different to me. It’s a job, it’s kind of fun, awkward sometimes, as well all know, it’s not a smooth ride, but finally, I get to see it from the other perspective and that is the perspective of the audience who have been there all this time and I am really glad to have survived all of this long enough to get this perspective.”
Even though Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is the end of an incredible nine-film story arc, it will remain one of the greatest stories told in a cinematic form. But the films themselves are representative of something that is greater than that, which is something Ridley is proud to be a part of.
“I think, in itself, to be part of something, like a lot of people in cinema are talking about representation and change and aren’t doing it,” Ridley said. “So I think, in itself, being part of a team of people that look a little different, that are from different places, like in whatever form that is – gender, race, whatever it is – I think that, in itself, is a legacy to be proud of.”
“Like J.J. was saying, this is a film of hope. And I think we are reflective of the world at large. There are a lot of people up against magnificent forces that are fighting the good fight. And, you know, the characters aren’t real, but what they’re doing is perilous in cinema. So to be able to portray even a tiny part of that in this crazy world is very special.”
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker opened in theaters on December 20, 2019.