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J.J. Abrams says Rey's ability to grasp the Force quicker than others is "not an accident"

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Photo: Bill Watters (Getty Images)

Of the numerous questions that J.J. Abrams front-loaded into Disney’s new Star Wars trilogy, few seemed as perfectly designed for his signature brand of mystery box storytelling as that of The Force Awakens protagonist Rey’s parentage and identity. Daisy Ridley’s preternaturally gifted Jakku-based scavenger is a question mark lobbed directly into the middle of the Resistance-First Order conflict, inviting all sorts of fevered inquiries about who she is, who her parents are, and why she’s got such a strong connection to the Force. All of which Abrams’ successor, Rian Johnson, cheerfully flushed down the space-toilet with his follow-up The Last Jedi, which argued forcefully—and, depending on who you ask, brilliantly—that “Where does Rey come from?” is a far less interesting question than “What will she do next?” In a narrative universe that spends so much of its running time in orbit around a literally immaculately conceived “chosen one” and his various kids, it was a refreshing reminder that heroism isn’t confined to the offshoots of a single, particularly midi-chlorian-rich bloodline.

All of which is all well and good, except that Rian Johnson, as the director of only the middle installment of this latest trilogy, doesn’t get the last say on any of its big questions; that falls back on to Abrams, who signed on to direct Episode IX after Colin Trevorrow departed/got unceremoniously fired from the franchise’s supposed grand finale. And while Abrams, true to form, is not spoiling any big plot details from The Rise Of Skywalker ahead of its December 20 release, he couldn’t resist the urge to tease a bit in a recent Rolling Stone interview about the film. When asked specifically about Rey’s unusually strong grasp of the Force—like her teacher Luke Skywalker, she seemed to get a Padawan’s apprenticeship’s worth of training out of a quick training montage on a miserable alien planet—Abrams got coy: “Yeah, spooky, right?” he responded with a smile. “It’s a fair point. It’s not an accident.”


Abrams has made a career out of toying with misdirection and expectations, so it’s possible that he’s just trying to throw a little more chaff here into fans’ hyper-senstive radar. That being said, he did note that nothing in Johnson’s movie appears to have scuttled any of his plans for what has to “inevitably” happen in this “final” Star Wars trilogy: “What I felt was that with everything that happens in that movie, and quite a lot does, nothing sort of obviated a sense of inevitability where I thought the story could go.”