The Rise of Skywalker's Reylo Kiss Actually "Felt Earned" to Daisy Ridley
The movie’s most misguided moment had personal significance.
For the average Star Wars fan, few entries were more disappointing than Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. While its predecessors were at least partially derided — The Force Awakens for relying too much on fan service, and The Last Jedi for the complete opposite — the final film in Star Wars’ sequel trilogy might be the most universally disliked. It failed to make good on nearly five years’ worth of narrative set-up, delivering baffling choices that seemed designed to appease a particular faction of the fandom.
One of its biggest controversies involved the persistence of “Reylo,” the odd will-they-won’t-they between Rey Skywalker (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) that had been a sticking point for the fandom from the very beginning of the sequel trilogy. Their dynamic was rife with tension, romantic and otherwise, but their issues seemed to begin and end with conflicting visions behind the scenes. Director J.J. Abrams framed their dynamic with borderline neutrality, while The Last Jedi’s Rian Johnson went all-in on the sexual subtext. With The Rise of Skywalker, Abrams left the relationship in limbo.
After an intense battle with a newly resurrected Emperor Palpatine, Rey appears to succumb to the physical toll. Kylo (now redeemed and reverted to Ben Solo) used his Force healing powers to save her life, and the two shared a hasty kiss before Ben promptly gave up the Force ghost. Whether you’re a devout Reylo, vehemently against the pairing, or someone who goes outside, you have to admit it was weird. It also didn’t seem to fully satisfy anyone... except Daisy Ridley, who recently weighed in on Star Wars’ most controversial kiss.
Ridley recently appeared on Josh Horowitz’s Happy Sad Confused podcast (via Collider) to promote her latest film, Sometimes I Think About Dying. Their conversation turned to Star Wars, and the fandom’s reception to the sequels.
“It’s still upsetting,” Ridley said of the fan response. “You don’t want people to feel like you’ve not served the thing they’re a fan of.” Both The Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker were “super divisive” in different ways, but that didn’t take away the films’ personal significance for Ridley: “It didn’t change how I felt about it.”
But how did she feel about that infamous kiss? “It felt earned,” the actress said. “What was interesting again, I think, was intentionality. My feeling in that moment was that it was a goodbye, so that felt earned. Because, I mean, you could call a kiss a thousand things, but I felt like it was a goodbye, and that whole scene felt so emotional. I felt like I was saying goodbye to the job.”
Of course, no goodbye is ever final in that faraway galaxy. Just five years after parting ways with Rey, Ridley is set to reprise her role in director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s upcoming Star Wars project. Her return felt like a bit of a surprise when announced, but the shifting fan reception to Rey’s arc seemed to pave the way for Ridley’s comeback.
“What was strange was, before I had breakfast with [Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy] last year, I had five people come to me and go, ‘Are they going to do any more with you?’” Ridley told Horowitz. “The way with which I was being greeted by people’s response to [Rise of Skywalker] was quite different than it had been before. Time had passed.”
Ridley also credits Obaid-Chinoy’s initial pitch for the sequel, which she called “cool as s***” in a recent interview with Variety. “No spoilers, but she gave me a rundown of the entire story. If it weren’t amazing, I would have been like, ‘OK, call me in five years.’ But it’s worthwhile.’”