Watch J.J. Abrams Discuss the Challenge of Crafting Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’s Ending

“Endings are the things that scare me the most.”

This comes from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker co-writer and director J.J. Abrams in a new video from Entertainment Weekly in which Abrams discusses the massive challenge—and opportunity—of bringing the 9-film Skywalker Saga to a close. With The Rise of Skywalker due in theaters in less than a month (!!), the world is very close to finding out just what kind of coda Abrams and his team have crafted for a franchise that began 42-years ago. It must have been an incredible problem to have. Abrams, of course, took it very seriously, as he describes (without giving away any plot details) the thinking behind how they ended this epic story.

“The cast and the crew brought a kind of commitment to this I hadn’t quite seen ever before,” he begins. Then he reflects on the singular challenge of creating a satisfying conclusion to a story that spans four decades and nine films.

“It’s not just a movie that needs to stand on its own, or is the end of three movies, it’s the end of nine movies,” he says. “That means we had to look at not just what Rian [Johnson] did, we had to look at what was done in the prequels, what was done in the original four, five, and six, and of course what was done in seven and eight…what is the true resolution of this saga? What feels right?”

The through-line from The Rise of Skywalker to, say, Phantom Menace might feel beyond difficult to do, until you remember how many connections were built into that particular film by George Lucas himself. Remember that C-3P0 was built by Annakin Skywalker in Phantom Menace. Annakin, of course, becomes Darth Vader. That’s but one example of how, even with a single line of dialogue, Abrams and his co-writer Chris Terrio might make a connection from one film to the next. (It’s also worth mentioning that, at least from what we’ve seen in the trailers, C-3P0 seems to have a fairly important role to play here).

For larger, thematic parallels, take your pick. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)’s obsession with Darth Vader is one obvious area of exploration, as is his connection to the father he killed, Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and the mother he still has left (at least in the realm of Star Wars), Leia Organa (the late, great Carrie Fisher). The return of Emperor Palpatine is another thread that directly ties The Rise of Skywalker to the original trilogy and the prequels. The problem of connecting Rise to the rest of the saga was likely one of what to leave out and what to drill down on.

“While there were many things that were planned, and discussed, and hoped for, that doesn’t mean there isn’t discovery,” Abrams says. “That doesn’t mean there aren’t things that come up that make you realize, ‘Oh, here’s an opportunity.’ It also doesn’t mean there are a list of payoffs that we have to do because of set-ups.”

Check out the video here:

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20, 2019.

For more on The Rise of Skywalker, check out the new character posters, this helpful Star Wars timeline, the latest TV spot, our breakdown of the final trailer, the final trailer itself, our break down of a bunch of new images, and a look at Rey and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)’s complicated relationship.

Featured image: Anthony Daniels is C-3PO and Daisy Ridley is Rey in STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. Courtesy Lucasfilm/Walt Disney Studios


Bryan Abrams

Bryan Abrams is the Editor-in-chief of The Credits. He's run the site since its launch in 2012. He lives in New York.