JJ Abrams reveals what impact The Last Jedi had on The Rise of Skywalker

By Laura Harding, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

JJ Abrams has revealed how the plot twists of Star Wars film The Last Jedi had an impact on his forthcoming instalment The Rise Of Skywalker.

The director, who also directed the first film in the current trilogy, The Force Awakens, said he was surprised by some of the decisions made by The Last Jedi director and writer Rian Johnson.

He told Rolling Stone magazine: “When I read his first draft, it made me laugh, because I saw that was his take and his voice.

“I got to watch cuts of the movie as he was working on it, as an audience member. And I appreciated the choices he made as a filmmaker that would probably be very different from the choices that I would have made.

“Just as he would have made different choices if he had made Episode VII.”

He added: “I felt the biggest surprise was how dark Luke (Skywalker, played by Mark Hamill) was.

“That was the thing that I thought, ‘Oh, that was unexpected’. And that’s the thing The Last Jedi undeniably succeeds at, which is constant subversion of expectation.

“The number of things that happened in that movie that aren’t the thing you think is going to happen is pretty fun.”

Asked how those unexpected plot points affected how he carries on the story in the forthcoming film, he said: “I had a real sense with Larry Kasdan (with whom he co-wrote The Force Awakens) about where things would go, potentially.

“And I think that, when I read Rian’s script, what I felt was that with everything that happens in that movie, and quite a lot does, nothing sort of obviated a sense of inevitability where I thought the story could go.”

The Rise Of Skywalker will be the conclusion of the Skywalker saga, which started with the first Star Wars film in 1977.

Discussing why this must be the end, he said: “I felt going into this, even on [Episode] VII – I don’t remember if this was discussed or not, but it felt like this was the final trilogy.

“It felt like it earned being the conclusion of that story. Who’s to say what comes next? Is there something else to be done that involves any of these characters?

“I’m working on nothing [Star Wars-related], so I’m not hinting at anything. I’m just saying, who’s to know, but it just felt like the end.”

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is released in UK cinemas on December 19.