At the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) assumes the mantle of Supreme Leader of the First Order, and the only thing standing in his way is, first, a Force projection of his former teacher, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), and finally, Skywalker’s very real and very powerful final student Rey (Daisy Ridley). But as The Rise of Skywalker begins, how far has Kylo Ren evolved since his own days as a young Jedi apprentice, and perhaps more importantly, his childhood as Ben Solo, son of Han Solo and Leia Organa? At the press conference for the upcoming film, Driver spoke about how much the spectre of his character’s former identity influenced his performance as one of the trilogy’s most formidable and complex characters.
Asked if he allowed Ben Solo to infiltrate his perspective as Kylo Ren, Driver said, “I think maybe subconsciously. When people are actively trying to deny a certain part of their lives, I think they can do it pretty successfully, and then it just turns into what is happening around them that brings it out of them. So I don’t think it’s something that we actively talked about, about playing it, but definitely is a thought to have.”
Driver joined members of the cast and crew in Pasadena on Wednesday to do press for The Rise of Skywalker, a film which not only completes the “sequel trilogy” cycle of films, but also wraps up the Skywalker saga started back in 1977 with the original Star Wars. Given that it’s a franchise where heritage and legacy are such inextricable components of the storytelling, Driver credited J.J. Abrams, not just for creating such a vivid and intriguing character on The Force Awakens, but in picking up that torch and pushing it forward into this final chapter in the story.
“That’s a testament to the writing, that from the beginning in Force Awakens, it was intentional that it was the force awakening for both sides, for the light and the dark,” Driver explained.” J.J., even in those first meetings, talked about someone who is unformed, but in control of his faculties, and knows where he fits, which is helpful for me as an actor.”
Looking back as the saga reaches its conclusion, Driver said that the emotional throughlines of the characters ran parallel with the experiences of the actors and filmmakers, as they first discovered what this new world, influenced by an old one, would look like. “We were all figuring out the same thing,” he said. “[Those ideas] totally influenced what’s going on in the story, especially in the first one, with a new cast, figuring out where you fit in, in a legacy that spans so much time. So that’s helpful. So I guess it’s similar in that it’s a subconscious thought and playing it, I guess it’s also a subconscious thought for me as an actor thinking about it.”
The Rise of Skywalker opens in U.S. theaters on December 20, 2019. Check back at Nerdist for additional reports from the press conference from director and co-screenwriter J.J. Abrams and cast members Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, and more!
Header Image: Todd Gilchrist