J.J. Abrams Talks Mark Hamill’s Reluctant Return, Rey’s Parents

By April 16, 2016

Production on Star Wars: Episode VIII is underway, and we’re counting the days until Rogue One hits theaters in December. But if you think that means we’re done talking about The Force Awakens, you’ve got another thing coming. J.J. Abrams spoke recently at the Tribeca Film Festival (c/o IGN), and he dropped quite a few juicy tidbits about how the film came together (and in certain cases almost didn’t), and addressed that small detail of WHO THE HELL ARE REY’S PARENTS PLEASE TELL US NOW PLEASE.

One of the more interesting admissions Abrams makes is that the injury to Harrison Ford, where the actor’s leg was broken by the Millenium Falcon’s door, make have indirectly helped save the movie. At the very least, it led to positive changes being made to the relationship between Rey and Finn:

When I was on the set of the Millennium Falcon and we started to do work with Rey and Finn, the first time we did it, it didn’t work at all…It was much more contentious. I didn’t direct it right. It was set up all wrong, and when Harrison Ford got injured – which was a very scary day – we ended up having a few weeks off, and it was during that time that I really got to look at what we had done and rewrite quite a bit of that relationship. So when we came back to work again, we actually just reshot from the ground up, those scenes. It was an amazingly helpful thing to get these  two characters to where they needed to be.

Way to take one for the team, Harrison.

Speaking of Rey, the issue of her parentage has been fiercely discussed and debated amongst fans ever since the film premiered. The release of the Rogue One trailer led to some (dumb) assertions that Felicity Jones MUST be playing Rey’s mother since, you know, they vaguely look alike. Come on, internet. You should be better than that. Ridley has since squashed that rumor. Abrams had a few things to say about that topic as well, after a fan directly asked him to reveal their identities:

Rey’s parents are not in Episode VII…So I can’t possibly say in this moment who they are. But I will say it is something that Rey thinks about, too.

After that sent the internet into a bit of a tizzy, he clarified his statements (c/o EW):

What I meant was that she doesn’t discover them in Episode VII. Not that they may not already be in her world.

So don’t worry, folks. Luke, Leia, and Han are all still viable candidates to be Rey’s parents. So is Chewbacca.

In non-Rey news, Abrams revealed that Mark Hamill was actually resistant to returning in Episode VII once he found out how limited his role would be:

We knew that getting to Luke was the whole story, and I was desperate to do the next chunk that we knew would not fit into this one movie. But, we knew that we had that ending, but it was a frightening and tricky thing to do, but at first and in all honesty, Mark Hamill was a little resistant…Imagine reading Star Wars, imagine being Mark Hamill and you get the script for the new Star Wars. ‘Oh the opening is good, page two, oh, three and so on – what the f**k is the going on, I’m three pages before the end, the last page, what?’ He was so kind to do it, and at first he was like, ‘Will it seem silly, will it be a joke that he is standing there?’ I said to him, ‘I don’t think it will.’ I said because the whole movie is about that, it could be a great fun drum roll, up to seeing this guy.

I’d say that worked out pretty well for everybody, wouldn’t you?

Abrams added this little fun fact that helped increase his appreciation of that huge, climactic moment:

Hamill was the exact same age as Alec Guinness was when he played Obi-Wan. I’m looking at him in the robes, and with the John Williams music, I start to tear up, and I know that this ending could really work.

Chills, that’s what happened. Everyone just got chills.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is available on Blu-ray and DVD now.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens on December 16, 2016, and Star Wars: Episode VIII, directed by Rian Johnson, will hit theaters on December 15th, 2017.

Make sure to keep checking back for more updates — right here on GeekNation.

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Joe Ruggirello
Joe is a writer, retired comedian, and giant nerd. He's particularly fond of comic books, pro wrestling, and Godzilla. Oh, and that Star Wars thing. You can yell at him on Twitter @JoeRu23.