Rise of Skywalker: J.J. Abrams Teases the Importance of Palpatine & Leia

gomoviesDecember 7, 2019


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is just around the corner, but that doesn’t mean the cast and creators are done teasing what’s to come in the future of the Star Wars. With CCXP underway in São Paulo, Brazil, director and co-writer J.J. Abrams took the stage with cast members Daisy RidleyOscar Isaac, and John Boyega to discuss the making of the Skywalker Saga conclusion and offer a few tantalizing (but very very vague) quotes about what we can expect in the much-anticipated finale decades in the making.

Of course, one of the biggest mysteries on everybody’s mind is what role Emperor Palpatine will play after it was revealed that Ian McDiarmid would return as the iconic character in the new film. Obviously Abrams wasn’t going to give any hard answers, but he teased, “that character, as you’ll see, he’s got such extraordinary power. I can’t wait for you to see how and why that character is back and what it means for these characters.”


Image via Disney/Lucasfilm

Those characters being Ridley, Isaac and Boyega’s returning heroes, who will finally get the chance to go adventuring as a team in Rise of Skywalker. “On the dark side, I can’t wait for people to see the story of Palpatine and what our characters are up against  It’s certainly the most intense story these characters have been through,” Abrams said. “On the light side, it’s a story of friendship…. For the first time, the main group of characters get to be together.”

As for fan-favorite pairing Finn and Poe, Boyega and Isaac revealed that the duo has spent a lot of time together on missions between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. “They’re boys,” Boyega said, “Their relationship is closer than ever.”

Abrams added that teaming them up as a group allowed for new character opportunities. “No one has had a chace yet to even see Rey and Poe together in a scene,” he said, noting that they met but he was excited for fans to see their group dynamic play out on screen.

As for Poe, the “hotshot pilot” went through a hard learning curve in The Last Jedi and Isaac teased the emergence of the Resistance leader we’ve all hoped he’d become. “Poe’s journey has been one of a pilot, of a dedicated soldier, turning into the general that Leia saw the potential in him,” he said. “He’s on his way there. He’s learning that he can’t do it alone, as much as he’d like to walk up to Kylo and smack that smug look off his face, he can’t do it himself. He needs his friends with him.”


Image via Disney/Lucasfilm

Rise of Skywalker also brings back Billy Dee Williams as iconic favorite Lando Calrissian and Isaac was particularly excited to see that character to return to the franchise. “That guy is just so debonaire and so charismatic. He has the most infectious laugh and smiles on the planet,” he said. “Growing up he was actually my most favorite character too because he was someone who looked a little different….he was an interesting character, you could never guess who he was, good or bad.”

“Finn’s reaction to meeting Lando is completely my reaction to meeting Billy Dee,” Boyega added. “Coolest guy I ever met.”

Rise of Skywalker also has to work around the untimely death of the great Carrie Fisher and finding a way to wrap up General Leia’s arc. “We felt her presence every day we were on set and we still feel it now,” said Isaac. “We could never do a digital character, Carrie would have never approved, and it could never be cast,” Abrams said. Fortunately, they had “a number of scenes” that they could pull unused footage from. “It’s an amazing tribute to Carrie,” Ridley added. “Leia is super-important to the story.”

The panel also served up an exclusive extended version of the clip previously released online, which sees Rey, Finn, Poe, BB-8, C-3P0, and Chewbacca squaring off against some airborne Storm Troopers on a speeder. In this version, we got to see a little bit more before and after what was released online. At the top, we saw Poe opening a wiring panel to fire up the vehicle, “How do you know how to do that?” Poe asks him.

After the released version of the clip ends, we saw the gang making their escape. They think they’ve lost them and 3P0 chimes in “Excellent job, sir,” but a Trooper is still on their heels and he quickly retracts the complement. “Terrible job, sir.”

BB-8 also gets in on the action, sparking up some trouble. “Not now BB-8,” Poe exclaims, locked in the escape. But the adorbs little droid sets a spark to a cannister of yellow gas and sends it flying at their pursuers and sends a Trooper into the air. Rey lines up the shot and takes him out. Finn takes the opportunity to take out the next, tossing a rope under their vehicle. Poe yanks a rudder and the rope sends the Trooper speeding into a rock wall.