Friend of the show Mike Harris joins Ryan and John to discuss our favorite qualities, characters, lines, and more from The Empire Strikes Back in celebration of its 40th anniversary before closing the show by considering its legacy and impact on Star Wars overall.
Daisy Ridley’s Rey is an incredibly effective and likable hero and one that has made a huge impact on audiences. She is universally loved by the friends and family with whom I’ve discussed the film but there’s been quite a bit of debate surrounding where she comes from and to whom she’s related. This is clearly by design, but was it part of the original plan for The Force Awakens?
I avoided spoilers as much as possible in the lead up to TFA while still seeking out and devouring every possible article, interview, photo, and trailer I could in the months leading up to its release. One particularly memorable piece from that period is a November Hollywood Reporter interview with Ridley in which she discusses her audition process, training regiment, and the secrecy surrounding her character. After reading the interview, I was fully expecting to learn the truth regarding Rey’s heritage in Episode VII because of the following exchange:
Ridley’s answer clearly indicates that she believes the “main question” will be answered in The Force Awakens, but unless I missed something, that didn’t bear out. What’s more, she even references the editing process and the possibility of aspects of the film changing as it moves from the set to the editing bay to the theater.
I’ve now seen The Force Awakens seven times, and knowing the movie fairly well at this point it seems possible to me that perhaps Abrams, Kasdan, and Lucasfilm originally intended to provide more concrete details surrounding Rey’s heritage. There are conversations and interactions in the film that sometimes feel as if they end prematurely (such as Kylo Ren’s aggressively-delivered “WHAT GIRL?” as he force chokes Lieutenant Mitaka, or Han’s missing reply to Maz’s probing “who’s the girl?”) that may have originally played out in a different way. It also seems to me that if Rey is a Skywalker (and most of us are in agreement that she is), she spends an awful lot of time around Han, Leia, and Chewie with none of them acknowledging their connection to her. Episodes VIII and IX could obviously supply justifications for that lack of acknowledgment, but again, it seems possible this film was originally meant to do that until a decision was made later in the creative process to hold back the revelation of Rey’s heritage for a future film.
In my experience, no topic has been more hotly debated than Rey’s background. I’ve personally been involved in many, many conversations about that very subject and fans on every side of the argument point to specific lines and details in the film to support whichever theory they endorse. While I have to assume this was the filmmakers’ desired outcome, I’m now wondering if J.J. and crew made cuts late in the post-production process to delay revealing the answer to one of the TFA’s most important questions. With the Blu-ray release and its accompanying behind-the-scenes content likely arriving in April, we’ll undoubtedly learn more about the process of putting the movie together and perhaps we’ll find out more about how Rey’s character developed throughout the film’s production.
UPDATE: Collider released an article today featuring discussion of a deleted scene that seems like it would’ve revealed a cool aspect of Maz Kanata’s character before being left out in post-production. Perhaps another indication of an ongoing debate within Lucasfilm about how much to reveal in The Force Awakens?