Whether you liked The Last Jedi or not, it’s definitely the movie that keeps on giving. Whether its the movie's Rotten Tomatoes score, it's massive box office haul, or shirtless Kylo Ren, everyone's still talking about the latest installment of the Star Wars franchise. The most recent revelation, though, comes via the folks at Empire Online, who managed to get a hold of The Last Jedi writer and director Rian Johnson for a two-hour-long podcast that featured all things spoilers (which is to say, if you still don’t want to hear any spoilers about The Last Jedi, which came out last year, then, you know, don’t keep reading.)
Johnson revealed quite a bit about his writing process and how the movie came together. But one of the most interesting revelations came as Johnson explained why Rey’s parents are who they are. In The Last Jedi, Kylo tells Rey that her parents were two dead “nobodies” from Jakku who traded her for booze money.
It’s easy to believe that perhaps Kylo was lying to Rey, because after all, there had been considerable hinting that Rey came from a far more distinguished background. In The Force Awakens, Maz Kanata really thought Rey’s eyes were familiar, and Adam Driver himself let it slip out that Rey is a “princess” in an interview with GQ. But now Johnson has more or less confirmed that Kylo is not lying, and his reasons for writing Rey’s background that way are, perhaps ironically, pretty noble.
“I went through all the possibilities of who her parents could be. I made a list, with the upsides and downsides,” Johnson told Empire. “There were two things about this option that made it feel right to me. Firstly, I like the idea that we’re breaking out from the notion that the force is this genetic thing that you have to be tied to somebody to have. It’s the ‘anybody can be president’ idea.”
“For me, if Rey had gotten the answer that she’s related to so-and-so, had learned her place in the story, that would be the easiest thing she can hear,” Johnson continued. “The hardest thing to hear is, ‘nope, this is not going to define you.’ And in fact, Kylo is going to use this to try and undercut your confidence so you’ll feel you have to lean on him for your identity. And you’re going to have to make the choice to find your own identity in this story.”
The idea of having to undergo an emotional (and likely physical) journey to figure something out—in this case, identity—sounds very Star Wars. The concept also fits with what Daisy Ridley previously said in an interview with Yahoo! Japan (and translated by Star Wars Net) about Rey’s lineage. When asked about her parentage, she said:
“I hope everyone will enjoy that moment. I knew the answer a few years ago, but the story that Rian Johnson created was so wonderful I couldn’t believe it. Honestly, I was very moved,” she said.