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JJ Abrams On Bringing Palpatine Back For Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Easing Off the Secrecy

November 25, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Emperor Palpatine Star Wars

JJ Abrams spoke with Uproxx for a new interview discussing the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. You can check out highlights from the interview below:

On the decision to bring Palpatine back: “Well, when you look at this as nine chapters of a story, perhaps the weirder thing would be if Palpatine didn’t return. You just look at what he talks about, who he is, how important he is, what the story is — strangely, his absence entirely from the third trilogy would be conspicuous. It would be very weird. That’s not to say there was a bible and we knew what happens at every step. But when Larry Kasdan and I worked on The Force Awakens, we didn’t do it in a vacuum. We very purposely looked at what came before. We chose to tell a story that touches upon specific things and themes and ideas that we’ve seen before, to begin a new story. But we examined all that came before to ask where does this feel like it’s going?

“So there were discussions about that at the time. Yet, like any beginning, you want to put the threads in, but you don’t want to necessarily be literal about everything. And then when Rian was brought on to do The Last Jedi, we met and we talked about things and he wrote his story. And when I read it the script, I realized this didn’t get in the way of anything Larry and I talked about that I thought I’d get to. There were some very specific things we did get to do in this movie that we were laughing and going, “Oh my god, we’re finally doing that thing we talked about five years ago.”

On if the film will give audiences a better sense of who Snoke was: “I will say, without giving anything away, knowing this movie is an ending is, for me infinitely more challenging than a beginning. We knew we needed to provide answers. And while there may be some things that aren’t entirely demystified by the end of it, we wanted to make sure people left feeling that they were satisfied. So I hope, on a number of issues, people will leave and feel like that it’s a true ending and not an advertising ploy. We really are bringing it to an end.”

on C-3PO being central to the film: “He’s very center to this story and truly wonderful in it. Anthony (Daniels) gets to do some things … He was [excited]. And there were times he was, you know, bemoaning having to do something … I was like, listen man, you wanted this! But he’s wonderful in this. I don’t think he’s ever been better.”

On the difficulty in making R2-D2 and 3PO integral before now: “Obviously, you do the best you can. You focus on what the story is and you respond to what your gut is telling you is working. And what the story seems to want. You know, I don’t know how strategic one can be working on something like that, thinking about how little or how much certain characters are used. Which is to say, you want to use them to serve the story. It turned out, we didn’t strategize this is the one Threepio has to be in more scenes than he’s ever been in. It just turned out that the story was best served using a character that has been underused to see a new side of him and tell the story. So it was very much a utility, but it felt inspired that you got to see a character in a whole new light.”

On being a little less secretive than he’s previously been: “None of that is strategic. But I do feel about this movie, because it is the end of something everyone knows — I don’t want to be coy. I feel very confident about what the movie is. And I feel like we’ve found a way to do something that doesn’t need — and I don’t feel the need — to do smoke and mirrors at all on this. I feel we have a story that’s pretty huge in scope. While I don’t want to tell the whole movie to people and ruin it and I don’t want to spoil things, I feel like we need to be able to have a conversation about how, yes, Carrie Fisher appears in this movie. And I’m happy to talk about how we did it, in so much as, people know, it’s really her. We didn’t do a digital Carrie. Yes, Palpatine is in this movie. I don’t want to talk about what that is and how. SO I’m not unguarded, because I want to make sure people enjoy the experience when they go. But I feel, about this movie, a little more open, I guess, than I have before.”