How Playing Kylo Ren Changed From Force Awakens To Rise Of Skywalker, According To Adam Driver

Kylo Ren killing a dude in Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker

It was only four years ago that the world saw the theatrical debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but that time has been incredibly significant for the classic sci-fi franchise. Prior to the 2015 blockbuster, the universe had been dormant on the big screen for about a decade, and in the years since we’ve seen three more movies hit cinemas – not to mention the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker.

As a result of this new generation of Star Wars movies, the world’s relationship with the saga has changed – but that’s far from the only evolution. It was something that was felt during production as well, as I learned sitting down with Adam Driver recently and discussing his relationship with writer/director J.J. Abrams during his third outing as Kylo Ren. Check out the video below!

From Star Wars: The Force Awakens, through Star Wars: The Last Jedi and going into Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, Adam Driver has been on a very complex journey with Kylo Ren in recent years, and one positive development the actor has seen during that time is a stronger ability to communicate about the character. While there was some original hesitance when he was first playing the part and starring in his first major blockbuster, that was something that evidently dissipated in the making of the ninth chapter in the Skywalker Saga.

I specifically asked Adam Driver how his relationship with J.J. Abrams in the making of Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker contrasted with his time making Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and this idea was at the center of his response:

There was just a shorthand right away that we didn't have on Force Awakens. There was no time wasted of, you know, ‘Does he like me?’ ‘Am I giving him the right thing?’ Right away we started this one with me like there was no idea that we can leave off the table. Everything that you're thinking and that I'm thinking we have to say and try it, because we only have this opportunity to do it. So there was, regardless of what it was, there was already an immediacy and familiarity with each other that there was no time wasted.

This actually opens up an interesting viewpoint into the mentality of the filmmakers and actors on the set of Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker. Everyone involved with the production was firmly aware that there wouldn’t be any next chapter to explore new ideas and avenues, and so it seems a certain openness in the atmosphere was created where all notions were welcome. It most definitely makes you wonder about all of the footage that didn’t make it into the final cut of the film.

Based on Adam Driver’s other comments, he apparently felt that this was a positive environment in which to work as far as meshing with his personal approach. When discussing his comfortability taking real ownership over Kylo Ren in the making of Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, Driver noted that he definitely felt a particular authority over who the character is, but added that he always maintained an open mind about potential new directions. Said the actor,

There is definitely a point with everything that you have to take ownership over what it is you're doing, but then not too much to the point that you feel like you have a sense of you know what you're doing and you're closing yourself off to a better idea. So in that sense, I never felt like I have a control, which helps because it's very much a character who is out of control.

Obviously that only works if he trusts the people around him, but Adam Driver found that while working on the latest Star Wars film. Not only did he have a strong rapport with J.J. Abrams, but also all of the people who helped create who Kylo Ren is. He explained,

I'm surrounded by people who are good and give you ideas in the moment. The set is so clear and beautiful and that gives so much information. The costume is so helpful. So I got a lot of answers from the things around me.

Co-starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran, Naomi Ackie, Billy Dee Williams, Keri Russell, Richard E. Grant, Anthony Daniels, Joonas Suotamo, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and more, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker arrives in theaters this weekend. Be on the lookout for plenty more of our coverage of the film here on CinemaBlend, as we have a ton of great stuff coming your way – including more from our interviews with the film’s cast.

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.