Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker!
It's been a month since Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hit theaters, and the conversation about J.J. Abrams' massive blockbuster is showing no signs of slowing down. Episode IX ended the sequel trilogy, as well as the overarching Skywalker Saga. It was a major task to try and stick the landing, especially when it came to Carrie Fisher's General Leia. The late actress/writer was included in the film through unused footage, and co-writer Chris Terrio recently revealed the 'one thing' he wanted to accomplish with the character's story.
Episode IX was originally going to be very much focused on Leia, as the previous two installments were vehicles for Han and Luke respectively. But when Carrie Fisher tragically died in 2016, it put a wrench into those plans. The Rise of Skywalker gave both the late actress and character a fitting end, with Chris Terrio elaborating on his main goal for the character, saying:
We knew there was, in this movie, a certain sobriety about Leia, and we had to pick and choose to ensure the weight of responsibility was still on Leia’s mind while at the same time maintaining a sense of Carrie’s wit and brilliance. It wasn’t easy. Most importantly, we wanted to put Leia in the Jedi pantheon. We thought that was a promise that was made in the original trilogy. In Return of the Jedi, you have this line, ‘There is another.’ That line haunted me as a kid, and to learn Leia was another Jedi was profoundly moving to me. We thought if we did one thing in this move, we wanted to find a way to put Leia in the Jedi pantheon. The way to do that was through Rey and Leia training her through the Jedi trials. A lot of our decisions through the film were setting up scenes where Rey could finish Leia’s Jedi journey for her.
That sounds about right. The sequel trilogy really expanded Leia's connection with The Force, especially The Rise of Skywalker. And it's that facet of the character that Chris Terrio was most passionate about.
Chris Terrio's comments to Awards Daily reveal how much the Star Wars franchise meant to the writer growing up. In particular, Return of the Jedi's big Leia twist, which revealed she and Luke were actually twins. Fans hoped that meant she'd become a Jedi in her own right, although The Force Awakens made it seem like she did not.
The Last Jedi showed Leia using The Force in the first significant way, in her infamous space float that saved her from dying in the movie's first act. But The Rise of Skywalker went full tilt on Leia's connection with the ways of the Jedi. She was first shown training Rey, before a flashback revealed that she actually trained with Luke and bested him in lightsaber combat. But she saw disaster for her future son at the end of her Jedi training, and therefore left her saber behind.
There are no doubt countless fans who loved this particular Leia twist, as they had the same feelings as Chris Terrio regarding Return of the Jedi. He wanted to see Leia finally embrace The Force, and that's exactly what happened.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is still in theater snow. Be sure to check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.