Update: According to Entertainment Weekly, J.J. Abrams clarified his earlier comments, saying, “What I meant was that she doesn’t discover them in Episode VII. Not that they may not already be in her world.” But what does that mean? Back to the conspiracy theory drawing board!
When you hire Chris Rock to conduct an interview—especially an interview with a nerd culture beacon like one J.J. Abrams, spotlighted in front of a large, bustling audience at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival thanks in no small part to the success of The Force Awakens—what you’re setting up for is a good show. Some pleasant patter, a few biting jokes, and the obligatory mention of Pootie Tang. (He found a way, guys.) So if what you’re really interested in is hard-hitting investigative journalism, you’re going to have to bring in a rogue. Enter: Kyle, an ostensibly middle school-aged Star Wars fan who, during the audience Q&A following Rock and Abrams’ hour-long back-and-forth, had the guts to ask the one question everyone in the audience—nay, the world—really wants the answer to: “I was going to ask you, J.J., who Rey’s parents are.”
After a round of elated applause from the crowd, Abrams jokingly told the young fan to “get out!” And while he, to no one’s surprise, refused to meet Kyle’s quandary with a direct answer, Abrams did say something that might put to bed a series of theories the fan community has been harboring since The Force Awakens’ release. “Rey’s parents are,” he began, pausing for just a moment, “not in Episode VII.”
A user on Twitter even got audio and video of the moment:
While the cadence of Abrams’ response suggested he was treating the answer somewhat humorously—that is, recognizing it as a jokey non-answer to Kyle’s direct question—the statement is rather revealing. If we are to take Abrams at his word here (and before we commit to that path outright, let’s remind ourselves of the Great Khan Debacle of 2013), we can now rule out Han, Leia, and Luke as prospective parents of the orphaned Rey. What’s more, this seems to rule out the Rey/Kylo Ren sibling relationship that many viewers felt was teased in The Force Awakens’ later scenes.
As such, this makes theorizing about Rey’s heritage a bit tougher, as it becomes all the more likely that her parents will be newbies to the Star Wars canon. But if you’re like me, this is a big plus: Rey’s story should be her own, and her heroism not inherited but earned—which, as far as I’m concerned, it already has been. However, Abrams did admit, “I can’t possibly tell, in this moment, tell you who they are. But I’ll say…it is something that Rey thinks about too.”
So what do you think about Abrams’ remark? Obvious? Shocking? Not to be trusted? The revelation could be any of the above, depending on which fan theory camp you belong to. Let us know what you think!
We have our own ideas about Rey’s parents, though, and you can hear all about them here:
Michael Arbeiter is the East Coast Editor for Nerdist. Find him on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter!