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SYFY WIRE Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker

J.J. Abrams took risks on Rise of Skywalker he wouldn't have taken on Force Awakens

By Josh Weiss
The Rise of Skywalker

For those Star Wars fans who felt like The Force Awakens was a carbon copy of A New Hope, we have some news for you. While J.J. Abrams is returning to the director's chair for The Rise of Skywalker, he definitely didn't want to play things safe this time around.

“On this one, I let myself be, at least in the way I was approaching the thing, freer,” Abrams, who co-wrote Episode IX's script with Terry Rossio, told Total Film. "In Episode 7, I was adhering to a kind of approach that felt right for Star Wars in my head. It was about finding a visual language, like shooting on locations and doing practical things as much as possible. And we continue that in Episode 9, but I also found myself doing things that I’m not sure I would have been as daring to do on Episode 7.”

In fact, the filmmaker actually took inspiration from Rian Johnson, writer/director of 2018's The Last Jedi. Polarizing reactions aside, no one can deny that Episode VIII dared to do something new for the Star Wars IP by upending viewer expectations.

“Rian helped remind me that that’s why we’re on these movies – not to just do something that you’ve seen before,” Abrams continued. “I won’t say that I felt constrained or limited on 7, but I found myself wanting to do something that felt more consistent with the original trilogy than not. And on 9, I found myself feeling like I’m just gonna go for it a bit more.” 

As a conclusion to the "Skywalker Saga," Episode IX brings back all of the franchise's familiar faces, including Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Carrie Fisher (General Leia Organa), for one last go around the galactic track. Even Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) is somehow coming back from the dead to get in on the action.

Keri Russell, Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant, and Dominic Monaghan play series newcomers.

Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker opens in theaters everywhere Friday, Dec. 20.