With The Rise of Skywalker, J.J. Abrams has the daunting task of concluding nine films spanning 42 years, so naturally there are things along the way the writer-director might wish he had been done a bit differently.
Speaking to IGN Japan, Abrams discussed trying to keep the saga cohesive despite changing visionaries along the way — particularly with Rian Johnson’s 2017’s Episode VIII taking the story Abrams launched with 2015’s The Force Awakens into some unexpected directions.
Seemingly asked if he had any regrets about how the process panned out, Abrams said there are things he wished he had done differently with Force Awakens, and cited one moment in particular.
“I always look at what I have done and see things that I wish I had done better or differently,” Abrams said. “I wish that Chewie hadn’t walked past Leia in the third act of The Force Awakens after Han died. There are things all over the place I always know I could have done better, but that’s part of learning, I guess.”
Abrams is referring to the scene where Rey returns from Starkiller Base after having witnessed Solo’s murder. Leia embraces Rey as Chewbacca walks on by despite the general’s decades-long relationship with the lovable “walking carpet” and barely knowing Rey.
The director has previously explained his thinking behind that moment. “My thinking at the time was that Chewbacca, despite the pain he was feeling, was focused on trying to save Finn and getting him taken care of,” Abrams told Slashfilm. “So I tried to have Chewbacca go off with him and focus on Rey, and then have Rey find Leia and Leia find Rey. The idea being that both of them being strong with the Force and never having met, would know about each other — that Leia would have been told about her beyond what we saw onscreen and Rey, of course, would have learned about Leia. And that reunion would be a meeting and a reunion all in one, and a sort of commiseration of their mutual loss … Had Chewbacca not been where he was, you probably wouldn’t have thought of it. But because he was right there, passed by Leia, it felt almost like a slight, which was definitely not the intention.”
That said, don’t expect Abrams to literally make any changes to the movie. During the Rise of Skywalker promotional tour, he was also asked about George Lucas making changes to the original trilogy and noted he wasn’t generally a fan of ongoing tinkering to films. “At a certain point, you have to say, ‘This is what it is,'” he said to NowThis. “And, for me, the idea of going back and making an incremental change or an adjustment to this or that, it just doesn’t — it’s not interesting to me.”
The Rise of Skywalker opens Dec. 20.