When audiences were first introduced to Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens back in 2015, the assumption was that this “Vader 2.0” would have the same “dark side to light side” redemption arc as his grandpa. And more or less, by The Rise of Skywalker, that’s ultimately how it played out. Hey, it’s Star Wars. As George Lucas famously said once about repeating themes in his saga, “It’s like poetry. It rhymes.” But while doing an interview on The Roku Channel’s The Rich Eisen Show, the man behind the mask, Adam Driver, said that wasn’t the original arc for his character. In fact, Kylo Ren wasn’t meant for redemption at all, but instead, meant to go the opposite way. Here’s what Adam Driver had to say about Kylo Ren’s arc and the original plan for it.
I had an overall arc in mind that he wanted to do, which then changed. His idea was almost the opposite journey of Vader, where Vader starts the most confident, the most committed to the Dark Side, and by the last movie he’s the most vulnerable, and weak, and he wanted to start at the opposite, where this character was the most confused and vulnerable, and by the end of the three movies would be most committed to the Dark Side.
While he doesn’t say whose idea it was, we’re guessing Driver meant J.J. Abrams, who directed The Force Awakens. While this last-minute Kylo Ren redemption reveal might annoy some folks, changing story beats mid-stream is a very Star Wars thing to do. In the original draft of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke’s long-lost twin sister was someone named Nellith Skywalker, who was off training to be a Jedi on the other side of the galaxy. The movies dropped any reference to her, except for Yoda mentioning “another” who was their last hope. Leia as Luke’s Force-using sibling also didn’t happen until the writing process for Return of the Jedi.
Both the prequels and the sequels would have been entirely different without the Luke/Leia reveal. And that story beat came very late in the game. Another thing one can’t predict until a film starts actually shooting is the actor’s chemistry with each other. And no one could have predicted that Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren and Daisy Ridley’s Rey would have had so much on-screen chemistry as they did. We’re sure that played a role in Kylo Ren’s Star Wars redemption. As Yoda once said, “Always in motion is the future,” and that applies to crafting ongoing stories of any kind. Especially Star Wars stories.