Star Wars: The Force Awakens – The Question that Snagged J.J. Abrams


As part of their continuing coverage of Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the Fall Movie Preview, Entertainment Weekly was able to sit down with Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and the film’s Director J.J. Abrams, to find out just how Abrams came to helm the flagship film, in resurgence of the Star Wars saga.

“Who is Luke Skywalker?”

This was the question that drew director J.J. Abrams into the world of Star Wars. When Kennedy approached the superstar director, he was putting the finishing touches on his second Star Trek film, Star Trek Into Darkness. At first, J.J. Abrams’ answer was a resounding “no.” He wanted to pursue his own original projects, and perhaps the thought of another film set in the confines of the future, or in this case — a galaxy far, far away — was simply not appealing to him.

And that’s when Kennedy hit him with the question that would irrevocably grab his attention and start him on his own journey to The Force Awakens.

"“In the context of talking about story and laying out what we were thinking, I said one thing to him. Who is Luke Skywalker?’”"

And what was Abrams’ response to this thought provoking question?

"“Oh my God, I just got the chills. I’m in.”"

He’s not the only one experiencing spine-tingling chills. That question makes even the most die-hard Star Wars fan take pause. Of course we know who Luke Skywalker is, right? He’s the farm boy from Tatooine, raised by his uncle and aunt, watched over by legendary Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the son of the most powerful Force user in the galaxy, Darth Vader — formerly Anakin Skywalker — the Chosen One.

We watched Luke grow from a boy with dreams of getting off the farm, with no idea what the Force was, in A New Hope, to a Jedi padawan — in his own right — in The Empire Strikes Back, to a Jedi Master in Return of the Jedi. We know who this character is…or do we?

One thing that Disney did when they purchased Lucasfilm, was to do away with the old Expanded Universe, and give it its own designation as Star Wars Legends. This meant that all those books and stories of Luke going off to rebuild the Jedi Order, were thrown out the window. A new Star Wars canon was born, and that meant Luke’s experiences after the Battle for Endor at the end of Return of the Jedi, were going to be completely different. As EW notes in their piece, war changes a person, especially if that person brought about the destruction of countless lives, while destroying the Death Star and defeating the Emperor, all at the cost of losing his father, with whom he had just reconnected.

Kathleen Kennedy expounded:

"“The themes and ideas that we all continue to talk about are the themes and ideas that were the inherent in the original movies. We’re looking, obviously, for aspiration, for characters who are conflicted between good and evil, dark and light.”"

So what does that mean for Luke? Has the one time hero of the Republic’s Rebel Alliance, and sole remaining Jedi (at the end of Episode VI), turned to the Dark Side of the Force? Or, has he become a sort of Dark Jedi, who sees the world in not the strict colors of black and white as the Jedi Order would have him do, but in shades of grey, were sometimes the tenets of the Jedi must be bent or broken, in order to achieve one’s goals?

EW did give some insight as to a rough outline of sorts for The Force Awakens. Saying, the Empire is now The First Order. The Resistance is a splinter group of the Rebel Alliance, or New Republic, with X-Wing pilots like Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron filling its ranks. Leia has somehow come into possession of the lightsaber that was once possessed by her father, Darth Vader, and later lost by her brother Luke, when Vader sliced his hand from his arm during the final scenes The Empire Strikes Back.

That last bit lends legitimacy to the rumor that the Skywalker familial lightsaber has in fact found its way to Leia. Whether the saber is falling through space to end up on the desert planet of Jakku, where BB-8 finds it as part of a mission with Poe Dameron to return the artifact to Leia, is still very much in question. It also makes sense that Kylo Ren, who is described as being Darth Vader obsessed, would travel to Jakku, to look for that treasured and until now, lost relic. So far, I am absolutely loving J.J. Abrams’ vision for this film.

You can read Entertainment Weekly’s article on J.J. Abrams, in its entirety, HERE.

Next: New photos from EW's coverage of Star Wars: The Force Awakens