J.J. Abrams Explains The One Thing That Surprised Him The Most About ‘The Last Jedi’

As you’ve probably already noticed, a new Star Wars film is coming out in less than two weeks, so director J.J. Abrams is doing lots of press to promote the ninth and final entry in the “Skywalker Saga.” Most of the filmmaker’s cheerleading for The Rise of Skywalker has, like outing actor John Boyega as a script leaker, stuck to Disney and Lucasfilm’s jovial public relations playbook. In his recent comments about Rian Johnson’s controversial eighth film, The Last Jedi, however, Abrams seemingly let his guard down for a moment.

As noticed by Entertainment Weekly, a Washington D.C. FOX affiliate asked Abrams what surprised him most about Johnson’s film did with the story of the characters he initially created in The Force Awakens. “What I loved about his approach was that he was just subverting all expectations everywhere you looked. Maybe the biggest surprise was not the biggest [for everyone else],” said the director. “Weirdly, for me, the thing that was the most surprising was Phasma dying. That was one of those characters I thought that there was something else [for].”

So, not Johnson’s decision to make Luke Skywalker into a self-doubting retiree, Kylo Ren’s usurping Snoke, or Rey’s parents being nobodies, but the death of the villainous First Order commander, Captain Phasma. As Abrams continued:

“Look, no one wants a character to die, and yet, I know that when we had Kylo Ren kill Han Solo, that was done because Harrison always knew there needed to be utility for the character, and he had famously always wanted Han to die and serve that purpose. It felt like this was a way to begin to define Kylo Ren, not just a way to kill a character. So, I can see why Rian chose to do that with some of these characters, but I guess for me the biggest surprise, weirdly, was Phasma dying the way she did.”

Though it may sound like the director is criticizing Johnson outright, he’s not. (Watching the video itself will help assure you of this.) However, it’s abundantly clear that, had he made The Last Jedi or, at least, had any control over it, Gwendoline Christie’s Phasma probably wouldn’t have died so quickly at the hands of John Boyega’s Finn.

A much as The Last Jedi critics hope that everything Johnson did will be “corrected” by Abrams, they shouldn’t count on it — even if Johnson is okay with this scenario. Although the director does see The Rise of Skywalker as a response to The Last Jedi and everything before it, he’s made his feelings about Johnson’s movie very clear. (He likes it a lot.)

(Via Entertainment Weekly)