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'Star Wars' director J.J. Abrams: 'It really is about hope.'

By
Fred Topel
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker writer-director J.J. Williams says the latest film is about hope. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" writer-director J.J. Williams says the latest film is about hope. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Writer-director J.J. Abrams and the cast recently discussed the most inspiring elements of Star Wars films at a press conference for the latest offering, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

"Star Wars, for me, was about hope and community," Abrams said earlier this month. "It's about the underdog, and it was about bringing people together. It really is about hope. It's about coming back to your sense of possibility, about unity. If Star Wars can't do that for us, I don't know what can."

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The Force Awakens was the first of Lucasfilm's Star Wars productions under Disney. Abrams brought back Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and introduced new characters Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

Rey began The Force Awakens as an orphaned scavenger. AWOL Storm Trooper Finn and the droid BB-8 got her wrapped up in an adventure when Kylo Ren came looking for them. Now telepathically connected to Kylo through The Force, Rey is leading the Resistance to defeat his First Order.

Three movies into her Star Wars journey, Ridley has adjusted to the physical and emotional demands the films require.

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"With the physical stuff, you train and train and train and then the adrenaline helps you do the thing," she said. "Also. the stamina needs to be there for you to continue to do your thing."

She added: "I would say I was more tired emotionally because there really wasn't a day where I was like, 'Oh, it's just a quick scene.' There's a singular tension that was tiring because, even in the emotional scenes, there's a physical containment that is tiring."

One of the twists of The Force Awakens was Kylo Ren's connection to original Star Wars characters. That film revealed Kylo actually is Ben Solo, the son of Han and Leia. Driver says there's no more Ben Solo left in Kylo Ren by The Rise of Skywalker.

"When people are actively trying to deny a certain part of their lives, I think they can do it pretty successfully," Driver said. "I don't think it's something we actively talked about playing."

Finn defected from the First Order and joined the Resistance with Rey. Boyega said Finn's loyalty is the quality he admires most in his character.

"Loyalty is something that I find very, very important in my life," Boyega said. "I think it's just super important to be loyal and to understand the way in which we all want to be loved and communicate. Proactive love is something that Finn does on a day-to-day basis."

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will feature the last appearance of Carrie Fisher as Gen. Leia of the Resistance. Fisher died in 2016 before filming The Rise of Skywalker. However, Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio wrote scenes around existing footage not used in The Force Awakens to craft Leia's final scenes.

"If we had Carrie around, would we have done some different things here and there?" Abrams asked rhetorically. "Of course, we would have. But we had the opportunity to have Carrie in the movie. She's great in the movie of course. It's still emotional and moving to think of her and how sad we are that she's not sitting here with us today."

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens Friday.

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