Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams reveals he met with George Lucas prior to writing the script. Following Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm, Lucas is no longer officially involved with the development of any of the new Star Wars movies. He did spend some time working on an outline for a sequel trilogy, but those ideas were eventually discarded in favor of the current direction. Over time, several details about Lucas' concepts have come out, and some of those (like Leia using the Force) were used in the actual movies.
Though Lucas isn't writing, directing, or producing the films anymore, that doesn't mean his input isn't valued by those who are tasked with bringing the galaxy far, far away to life. The Rise of Skywalker, after all, serves as the culmination of a nine-movie arc that Lucas himself started more than 40 years ago, meaning it has to (at least partially) tie into those earlier films. And to make sure he kept Episode IX on the right track, Abrams decided to consult Lucas before he went to work.
In an interview with MTV, Abrams talked about everything The Rise of Skywalker needs to accomplish in order to go down as a successful film. Understanding the magnitude of the undertaking, Abrams felt it would be a good thing to pick Lucas' brain:
"I feel that the story we told, the goal for this movie, the job was to end not just this trilogy – and just to make a stand-alone film, of course it needs to work in that way too – but to end nine films, three trilogies. And so the job was to look at all of them, including [The Last Jedi], and ask ourselves, ‘What is the inevitability? Where is this going?’ There have been a lot of ideas since the beginning, since George [Lucas] first came up with this, of where things could go [in the last film]. We had a meeting with him before we even wrote the script about [The Rise of Skywalker]."
Of course, Abrams couldn't get into any details about what he and Lucas discussed, but odds are Palpatine was part of the conversation. The overarching villain of the saga makes his surprise return in Episode IX, so Abrams might have wanted to see if Lucas had any input in regards to that story thread. After all, it was Lucas who came up with the story of Darth Plagueis, which was about dark side users obtaining the power to cheat death. Considering the plan all along was to make Palpatine the big bad for Episode IX, Abrams was doing his due diligence here to make sure his Rise of Skywalker script honored what Lucas had done on the previous installments. While there was a concentrated effort in Force Awakens marketing to distance the new films from the prequels, Lucasfilm definitely hasn't had any qualms about integrating ideas from that maligned trilogy into the modern films. If this is the payoff for the entire Skywalker saga, Episode IX needs to pull from all corners of it.
This isn't to say Lucas helped write the screenplay or had an overt hand in The Rise of Skywalker's development. But it's still nice to hear Abrams didn't shut Lucas out entirely and made sure the creator of Star Wars was involved in some capacity. Specifics about their meeting likely won't come until the film premieres, but perhaps by then, it'll be confirmed Lucas had a key role in crafting a scene or two. After all, at least one of his ideas for Solo: A Star Wars Story made it into the finished movie.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019