J.J. Abrams On How 'The Last Jedi' Set Up 'The Rise Of Skywalker': Rian Johnson's Movie "Helped Strengthen" What Abrams Wanted To Do In The Final Skywalker Entry

From the moment the credits rolled on Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi, fans of the franchise have wondered how the next movie would react to the big storytelling swings Johnson took in that film. But J.J. Abrams, who returned to the director's chair to finish out the new trilogy, clarifies that some of Johnson's narrative decisions didn't get in the way of how he wanted to conclude this arc in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. In fact, Abrams says "they might have even helped strengthen" what he wanted to do in the first place. Read his comments below.

In a recent interview with Esquire, Abrams was asked what it was like to follow The Last Jedi and how that movie's bold choices changed his approach to making The Rise of Skywalker:

"There were some choices that made things a bit more fun for us, because, for example, Rian didn't have the whole group collaborative adventure of it together, and that was really fun to get to tell the story of the group, the droids, out on one breakneck, crazy, desperate adventure. You know? The choices that he made for me were as a fan, as a reader of the script, a fan of his, a fan of Star Wars...it was just fun to read someone's take that was so about surprising the viewer and it was just really entertaining, because it was, it got to surprise me nearly every time. So, I loved it for that.

As a filmmaker, working on episode IX, amazingly, nothing that he did in Last Jedi got in the way of things that we had talked about wanting to do down the line, ideas that I had about where things might go, so...it wasn't like his story somehow derailed the things I wanted to pursue. In fact, strangely, they might have even helped strengthen them because we got to make some choices that sort of take advantage of the fact that Rian hadn't done the things that we were thinking about doing."

Personally, I think The Last Jedi is the best piece of Star Wars content ever produced (annnnnnd half the readership just clicked away), but if I had one complaint about the movie, it's that I love the core new cast members so much that I wanted to see them all spend the whole movie together so I could witness their chemistry and dynamics on full display. It sounds like that's exactly what Abrams has in store for us in this final chapter, so right now I'm putting my concerns about the Emperor aside and placing faith in the idea that these wonderful actors and Abrams's skills at crafting whirlwind action scenes will keep this movie afloat. We'll find out how successful the final result is when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20, 2019.