star wars knights of ren

It’s Star Wars season again, and that means The Rise of Skywalker director/co-writer J.J. Abrams is out on the publicity trail giving interviews left and right. In a particularly interesting one that was published this week, Abrams gave his thoughts on The Mandalorian‘s Baby Yoda, set some expectations for the Knights of Ren, commented on the franchise’s fandom, and addressed the idea of returning to direct another Star Wars film.

knights of ren

The Knights of Ren

In an interview with Esquire, Abrams was basically asked why he waited until the third movie in this trilogy to give the mysterious Knights of Ren more to do:

“They’re characters that, when we came up with them in Force Awakens and had very brief sighting of them, it was something that we had a lot of ideas of sort of further adventures with them, backstory, you know, and all sorts of things that were not the focus of the central story, and never made it into the movie. And episode VIII, The Last Jedi, didn’t address that, at all, and it just allowed for us to bring them back in. I mean, they’re best kept more mysterious than familiar, which is just to say there aren’t going to be a lot of scenes with them taking their masks off and hanging out and eating sandwiches, but it felt like I definitely wanted to see more of them than we had, and I felt happy that we got a chance to do that in this movie.”

Baby Yoda merchandise

Baby Yoda

After praising the original trilogy for the way it filled out its universe by mentioning things like the Clone Wars and the Senate without ever actually showing them, Abrams addressed The Mandalorian character known across the internet as Baby Yoda:

“But you always felt that there was a peripheral life and history and world beyond what you were seeing. And for me, Star Wars is sort of constantly expanding and sort of ever-expanding. And the ability to choose a character like Yoda and say, “What if we created a baby Yoda?” The reason these things are reasonable to people is because it’s not just nostalgia but it’s taken something that is meaningful, a story that has deep roots and potency and resonates with a human heart, a beating heart. These are the kind of things that, when they hit, when there’s something that feels like, “oomph,” it’s not just cute but it implies a story. It sparks the imagination. That’s the thing, whether it’s bringing back Lando, and wanting to know what’s been going on, to introducing a brand new character, and brand new droid or a brief glimpse of a baby Yoda. All these things are about the possibility, potential, and that’s the very heart of what Star Wars is.”

Toxic Fandom

When the topic of toxic fandom came up, Abrams pointed out that toxic “fans” are not unique to Star Wars and paid lip service to the idea that, essentially, some people may just be making a lot of noise about these movies to get attention. Then he got into his own relationship with the franchise:

“I always loved Star Wars because it’s got a huge heart. Did I always believe in and agree with every single thing that happened in every movie, whether it was the prequels or the original trilogy? No. But do I love Star Wars? Yes. So, for me, I hope — and I’m sure naively — we can return to a time where we give things a bit more latitude. We don’t have to agree with every single thing to love something. I don’t know anyone who has a spouse or a partner or any family member or any friend, who loves and agrees with every single thing that that person is and does. We have to return, I think, to nuance and acceptance. And so I feel like, as a Star Wars fan, do I love every single thing about each of the movies? No. But do I love Star Wars? Hell yes, I do.”

Would He Ever Come Back to Star Wars?

This is Abrams’s second Star Wars movie and it marks the end of a nine-film arc…but with the future of the franchise in flux, would Abrams ever consider returning to direct another film? Naturally, his answer was extremely on brand:

“I just yesterday finished this thing. So it’s a bit like asking someone at the end of a meal at French Laundry, you know, if they want to get a burger. It’s like, you know, I’m sure that one day having a burger would be the greatest idea in the history of time, but in this moment I’m full.”

Be sure to head over to Esquire to read the complete interview, which touches on whether George Lucas has seen the film yet, reading fan theories, and more.

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

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