The hardest thing Rey had to learn in Star Wars: The Last Jedi wasn’t the ways of the Force, or how weird Luke Skywalker actually is. It was the harsh truth behind her family — or lack thereof. In a new interview, director and writer Rian Johnson said he considered “everything I could think of,” but ultimately chose the one he felt would be the “hardest thing” for Rey to hear.
Spoilers for The Last Jedi ahead. (Although, come on, you’ve seen it.)
On Wednesday, Johnson appeared on /Filmcast where he talked openly about his ideas for Rey. He said he had what he called “The Big Ass Document” where he wrote down every idea for Rey as humanly possible. “I honestly listed everything I could think of, even awful possibilities where I said, ‘This is not what we’re going to do.’ I mean the less silly one was, ‘Is she a clone?’ Anything that’s a theory on Reddit now I guarantee was listed on that document.”
In the end, as fans saw in The Last Jedi, Johnson made Rey a genuine nobody. She was the child of junkers who sold her off for money so they could get space-wasted. And being a “nobody,” Johnson says, upended expectations in a continuity packed with coincidences and rightful births.
But that wasn’t always the plan. “It’s not like I was aware of those expectations and was trying to purposefully poke people in the eye,” he confesses, “I was writing based on my honest gut reactions to what the most powerful turn of events would be to those questions.”
“The question boils down to ‘What is the hardest thing she could hear?’” Johnson added. “It’s really similar to the ‘I am your father’ scene, but with the inverse answer.”
“I am your father” takes what could have been a very simple bad guy and suddenly turns him into something much more complicated. To do that with Rey, to give the audience and Rey that feeling of “Oh no,” it had to be the opposite of that.
After seeing The Force Awakens, some fans spent every waking moment theorizing who Rey is and who her family could be. It was kind of inevitable, since the series’ biggest revelation in its 40-year history was Luke Skywalker learning his father was the big scary guy trying to kill him with a blood red laser sword. But the revelation could have gone in a hundred other ways, as Johnson revealed.
One possibility he entertained? Rey is a robot. (Thankfully, he deemed it the “silliest one”.) “Okay, we’ve seen a biomechanical realistic flesh hand on Luke, could the technology have advanced significantly in the 30 years, and then I just started laughing. Look forward to the ‘Rey was almost a robot headlines.’” Ha, joke’s on you, Mr. Johnson!
Star Wars: The Last Jedi will arrive on Blu-ray and DVD soon.