Breaking a story, especially one as culturally important as the final entry in the Skywalker Saga, carries a weight of responsibility that must be almost unbearable. The Rise of Skywalker is that story and cracking it was a tough nut. Thankfully, J.J. Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio – who you can hear on the latest episode of Making Tracks along with producer Michelle Rejwan – had the solution to that potential problem; bringing back the lead villain from the previous two trilogies and Kathleen Kennedy and Rejwan discussed that moment.
io9: One of the big decisions made by J.J. and Chris Terrio was bringing back the Emperor in some form. Was there a worry that bringing back the villain of the previous two trilogies would undercut the endings achieved in those two trilogies?
Rejwan: I think there was a feeling of inevitability that Palpatine had been a part of all three and in the biggest picture of nine movies, he has been there from the very beginning. And his presence in this movie, we will not spoil that, but when you see it it does feel to us, not only does it have the feeling of inevitability, but the ending of where we left him last, in Return of the Jedi, was very important to J.J. and Chris and to all of us. We discussed it at great length. So no, I don’t think so. I think it definitely feels as though it is in the DNA of the nine. And it felt appropriate to have his presence be in this movie.
io9: What was the moment making this movie where everything clicked? Where you said, “We’ve got it. This is the way to end this Star Wars saga”?
Kennedy: I think there was a point in the shooting where there was an epiphany moment. Where all of us very clearly said, “Yes, this feels right.” The how, getting there, the details in that? We were right up until the end. And I think the great thing about the dialogue that happened consistently with J.J., Michelle, Chris, and myself was that because we all know each other pretty well—Chris was really the only person we didn’t know super well—but there was a very free, confident, honest dialogue that could happen. Nobody was being overly polite. [Both producers laugh]. If you didn’t think something made sense. If you couldn’t follow it, if you thought, from a fan’s point of view, that you’re stepping outside the lines and it was a bogus kind of thinking, no one was afraid to say that because we knew how important this was to get right. And we didn’t let things go.