Rey Origins

It was one of the biggest mystery box questions that J.J. Abrams left hanging at the end of The Force Awakens: Who are Rey’s parents?

The question caught fire on the Reddit threads and internet forums in the two years between Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, with fans speculating that Rey was related to everyone from Luke Skywalker, to Han and Leia, and even to Snoke. While writing the script for Last JediRian Johnson wrestled with Rey’s origins just as much as fans did. Maybe even more so, the The Last Jedi director said in an upcoming interview with The /Filmcast. In the process, he explored every option that the internet suggested, and then some. And some of them are pretty ridiculous.

Spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi follow.

Much to the chagrin of many passionate Star Wars fans who had drawn up an elaborate story of who their big heroine was, the big world-changing twist about Rey’s origins in The Last Jedi turned out to be…the polar opposite of that. Instead, Rey was revealed to be a “nobody” whose parents sold her off for no greater reason than to buy their next meal or drink. It completely upended the expectations of the Star Wars franchise. But that wasn’t Johnson’s intention, or even his plan, from the beginning. “It’s not like I was aware of those expectations and was trying to purposefully poke people in the eye,” Johnson said. “I was writing based on my honest gut reactions to what the most powerful turn of events would be to those questions.”

And before Johnson could come up with radical, subversive answers to The Force Awakens‘ mystery box, he had to break a few eggs. His process? A document he called “The Big Ass Document,” where he would list questions to try to organize his thought process. For Rey, he had a whole list of possibilities for her origins, which ranged from ridiculous to even more ridiculous.

“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.

The silliest one was, ‘Is she a robot?’ 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.'”

That never came to be (how insane would a robot Rey storyline be?) but Johnson elaborated on why he eventually landed on Rey ultimately being a “nobody.” Beyond the democratization of power — a beautiful concept that tears down the idea of “chosen ones” and posits the idea that anyone can be a hero — the director explained that this revelation was the most important to Rey’s arc.

“The question boils down to “what is the hardest thing she could hear?'” Johnson said. It shakes up Rey’s entire quest of “finding her place” in the universe and shakes up the audience’s understanding of how the Star Wars universe works. “It’s really similar to the ‘I am your father’ scene, but with the inverse answer,” Johnson remarked. “‘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.”

Cool Posts From Around the Web: