It often feels like we’ll never run out of fascinating behind-the-scenes stories about the five “Star Wars” films that Disney has produced thus far. The latest of these comes from Daisy Ridley, who played the main character of the new numbered Disney trilogy. The status of Rey’s backstory was always strange, but Ridley made it clear on Tuesday’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that it was a bit stranger than we realized.
Josh Gad, who was guest-hosting in place of Kimmel on Tuesday, asked Ridley about when she found out that Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) was Rey’s secret grandfather. And Ridley provided a complicated answer.
“At the beginning, there was toying with like an Obi-Wan connection. And then it really went — there were different versions, and then it really went to that she was no one,” Ridley said. “And then it came to “Episode IX,” and JJ pitched me the film and was like, ‘Oh yeah, Palpatine is granddaddy.’ And I was like, ‘Awesome.’ And then two weeks later he was like, ‘Or we’re not sure.’
“So it kept changing. So then even [Ridley’s audio drops out] we were filming, and I wasn’t sure what the answer was gonna be.”
Gad then, right after she finished speaking, seemingly filled in what Ridley said when her audio cut out: “Until the very end.”
There’s a lot to sift through here, and Ridley’s answer isn’t quite as detailed as I would like with regards to when each of these ideas came into play. But in case you need a refresher on the basics of this situation, here’s a very brief recap:
One very contentious topic with the Disney “Star Wars” trilogy is Rey’s parentage. JJ Abrams’ “The Force Awakens” very much implied that Rey had some kind of destiny related to her missing parents, and even a family connection of Luke Skywalker’s old lightsaber. Rian Johnson’s “The Last Jedi” then took things in that “she’s no one” direction, before JJ Abrams made her Emperor Palpatine’s granddaughter in “The Rise of Skywalker.”
Ridley here seemingly confirms what everyone suspected: that there was a tug of war over Rey’s family history between Abrams and Johnson. But there’s so much more, especially with the possibility that Rey was related to Obi-Wan Kenobi in some way.
The way Ridley mentioned the Obi-Wan plans makes it sound like that aborted idea was from the early days of the trilogy, as she mentioned it before the “no one” part which is clearly from “The Last Jedi,” and as a separate item from all the stuff about “Episode IX.”
The Obi-Wan “connection” is an entire discussion topic unto itself, of course. Obi-Wan Kenobi had certainly died by the time Rey was born, and he had no children that we knew of. Perhaps this was something that would have been explored in the Obi-Wan movie that ended up being reworked as a Disney+ television project. It’s possible we’ll never know — or at least we’ll have to wait until somebody writes a tell-all about this insane era of “Star Wars.”
All of that is very wild, but the idea that Abrams and co. waffled on whether to have Palpatine be Rey’s grandfather throughout filming is also pretty crazy. I have many follow-up questions about that topic. Like, what were the alternatives? How many other possible family backstories did they shoot while filming “The Rise of Skywalker”?
It’s fitting that “The Rise of Skywalker” — which was divisive among the “Star Wars” fanbase and garnered a mere 51% rating from review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes, the worst in the franchise — would spark numerous fun behind-the-scenes stories. I wouldn’t be overly surprised if we hear more in the relatively near future.
You can watch Daisy Ridley’s full interview on Tuesday’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” above or here.