J.J. Abrams Addresses The Unconventional 'The Last Jedi', And Suggests A Future Beyond 'Episode 9'

We're just over a week away from the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and the discourse continues to roll as we inch closer to the final entry in the Skywalker saga. Today, a lengthy profile in The New York Times resulted in some interesting quotes from J.J. Abrams, especially in regard to the apparently endless back-and-forth about Star Wars: The Last Jedi, as well as touching on the possible future of the franchise. Read Abrams quotes below, along with an intriguing one from Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.

Abrams on The Last Jedi

The NY Times piece correctly characterizes Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi as a success, while pointing out that the film didn't think the questions many fans had heading into it were as important as they thought:

Abrams praised "The Last Jedi" for being "full of surprises and subversion and all sorts of bold choices."

"On the other hand," he added, "it's a bit of a meta approach to the story. I don't think that people go to 'Star Wars' to be told, 'This doesn't matter.'"

Abrams is right that until The Last Jedi, people didn't necessarily go see Star Wars movies for subversion. But that's precisely why Johnson's movie is so exciting: as the eighth entry in a long-running saga, it decided to zig when everyone thought it would zag, and in the process, injected some life back into a film series that could have ended with an uninspired, paint-by-numbers formula. For more on this, and for anyone who ever wondered how so many of us can love The Last Jedi so much, I encourage you to read /Film managing editor Jacob Hall's incredible breakdown of the movie and its themes from immediately after the film's release. It's one of the best pieces about The Last Jedi you'll find anywhere.

What's Next for Star Wars?

As for the future of the franchise, Abrams – who is understandably tired after making this new movie with three fewer months than he had on The Force Awakens – addressed that, too:

"Can it go on? Of course it can go on. But there's something bold about saying this is what the story should be...Any great ending is a new beginning on some level."

He says he "didn't design" the future of the franchise so he doesn't know what's to come, but later, the writer of the article implies that he asked Abrams if he would come back to direct another Star Wars film, and Abrams responded, "I just need one night's sleep." That non-answer is in line with ones he's given before, so it sounds like he's keeping his options open about one day returning to a galaxy far, far away.

As for Kathleen Kennedy, she was also interviewed for the profile and said that though the Skywalker saga is concluding, "[Star Wars] doesn't have to end":

"We're all custodians of something that George [Lucas] created, and we're trying to do the best we possibly can," Kennedy said, adding that it was important to "recognize and honor what it is that he created — and move on. I think we're ready to move on."

Naturally, she pointed to the Disney+ series The Mandalorian as what the Times called "a model for the future of the franchise," and seemed to indicate that they may draw from pre-existing material to continue the overall Star Wars narrative:

"It's not as though we have nothing to dip into, but all it is, really, are road posts, pointing us in a direction. You don't spend a lot of time defining what it is that George intimates in this mythology. You tell stories about people, and you take the mythology and apply it to their conflict."

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20, 2019.