Why We Might Actually Sympathize With Kylo Ren In Star Wars: The Force Awakens

While his exact motivations and mission in Star Wars: The Force Awakens have not actually been revealed just yet, Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren has been painted as the villain of Star Wars: The Force Awakens from the very beginning of the film’s marketing campaign. With his black robe, creepy mask, ominous voice, and red lightsaber, a very clear "good or bad" picture has been painted – leaving us to assume that we will very much be rooting against him as the story plays out. This made us wonder, however: will the movie give us the opportunity to understand his point of view and sympathize with him? If Driver’s mentality diving into the character is fully represented, then that should definitely be the case.

I had the pleasure of sitting down one-on-one with the Force Awakens antagonist this past weekend at the Los Angeles-held press day for the film, and it was during our conversation that I inquired how audiences will perceive Kylo Ren and if they’ll get the opportunity to see things from his point of view. Driver was unsure about looking at the character from an outsider perspective, but did acknowledge that was it was part of his process getting into Kylo’s mindset:

Well, I don’t know. I certainly didn’t think of him that way in playing him, that he is doing anything villainous. It’s more if he thinks what he is doing is right, and being justified by it. And then trying to tell the story of why – making it a person as much as possible.

When I followed up asking if he worked to find a greater sense of humanity within Kylo Ren, Adam Driver interestingly noted that process can actually slice two ways. Personally finding the truly human part of the character and deeply understanding him can obviously be a way for the audience to relate to him and sympathize – but knowing that he truly believes in his subjectively evil mission can also make him appear outwardly as more of a threat. After all, if he unwaveringly believes in what he’s doing, then will be that much harder to find a way to stop him. Or as the actor put it:

I think that when people feel they’re morally justified, to me it feels more dangerous.

You can watch Adam Driver discuss the characterization of Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the video below:

During our interview, Adam Driver couldn’t really say much about his specific mission in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and that’s probably going to be kept a secret right up until the film finally hits theaters on December 18th. All we know, based on footage from the trailers, is that he is keen on continuing the work and legacy of Darth Vader – or as the character puts it, finishing what the Sith Lord started. There has been some speculation that this has to do with wiping out all remaining Jedi in the universe, but there has been no official confirmation on that front.

We have a lot more from our interviews with the cast and director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens coming in the next few days/weeks, so be sure to stay tuned here on Cinema Blend!

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.