Star Wars: Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow is using his own personal experiences as a father to help him while crafting the sequel trilogy finale. Back in 2015, The Force Awakens rejuvenated the galaxy far, far away on film, earning much critical acclaim and grossing $2 billion at the worldwide box office. There was an enormous amount of pressure on J.J. Abrams to deliver, and now that this new chapter of the story got off to a rollicking start, expectations are even higher for Rian Johnson (who is directing The Last Jedi) and Trevorrow. Star Wars 9 may even be the final episode in the legendary Skywalker saga, meaning the Jurassic World helmsman will be facing intense scrutiny as he works on the film – a fact he’s very much aware of.
One of the reasons why Episode VII was so successful was the entertaining cast of new characters that quickly became fan-favorites, such as Poe Dameron, Finn, and particularly Rey. People who grew up on the original trilogy were infatuated with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia, and now the current generation has a trio of their own to look up to. The ballyhooed return of the classic big three was the cause of much celebration, but the sequels are very much Rey’s story and how this journey impacts her. It’s a fact Trevorrow is trying to be very cognizant of, and parenthood is making this aspect a little easier for him.
In an interview with Fandango to promote his new movie, The Book of Henry, Trevorrow of course was asked about Star Wars 9, mentioning that he had to find something “deeply personal” to ground Episode IX. From the sound of it, he’s using his connection with his children to form the narrative and understand how today’s youngsters relate to Rey:
“Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia were all characters that we were able to identify with in various ways, and especially with the character of Rey and what she means to young girls right now, and the challenges that she’s up against. It is extremely crucial that I understand what actual children are feeling about these stories that we’re telling them, and I think it’s important that I have kids, and if filmmakers don’t have kids, they should go talk to them because they don’t see things the same way that we did when we were kids. So, yes, I am very dialed in to that because I think it’s a requisite of the job.”
Obviously, Star Wars is a franchise that appeals to moviegoers of all ages, but the films’ largest fans are arguably the kids in the audience, who get wrapped up in the magic and spectacle. Many are introduced to the galaxy at a young, impressionable age, and even as they get older, the simple, yet effective, storytelling on display can touch the child in all of us, providing two hours of whiz-bang escapism that’s pure fun. While working on Episode VII, Abrams said his one mandate was to craft a story that would “delight us,” and he accomplished that by capturing the spirit of the original movies with enthusiasm and gusto. Intentional parallels to A New Hope aside, The Force Awakens was a highly entertaining return-to-form that reminded several viewers why they fell in love with Star Wars in the first place, and now even more people are strong with the Force.
It’s a positive sign that Trevorrow is looking at Episode IX through a similar lens, not wanting to lose sight of what’s most important. Based on rumors, Luke is probably going to play a key role in Star Wars 9, but despite giving the Skywalker twins and Han Solo moments to shine, this trilogy is more about Rey’s continuing evolution, Kylo Ren’s succumbing to darkness, and Finn finding his place in the world. Luke and his friends had their time, and now they can slide into supporting roles and let the new characters take the lead. This keeps the series feeling fresh and makes it accessible for all – both the young and the young at heart.