The Force Awakens was wrapping up production, and its sequel, The Last Jedi, was just getting underway. J.J. Abrams had not only resurrected the Star Wars universe, but he had introduced entirely new characters to the galaxy to carry the narrative forward.
But as one film prepared to hand off the story to the next, The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson had a major favor to ask: Would Abrams mind changing the ending of his film?
Just a little.
let’s finally solve this mystery: What was Rian Johnson’s big ask? (We also got him to discuss why Luke Skywalker fled into exile rather than stay and fight the First Order.)
Obviously, slight spoilers ahead …
Johnson already had a to-do list for the Force once it awakened, and he was involved early enough to know exactly where Abrams and co-screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan were taking things. But when he saw the planned ending — that silent scene of Rey returning an exiled Luke Skywalker’s first lightsaber to him — he had a concern about who was accompanying her on that journey.
His request will end up returning a long-beloved Star Wars figure to the center of the action: R2-D2.
“Yes … The big [favor] was, I asked if R2 could come with Rey, and if BB-8 could stay behind with the Resistance,” Johnson says. “Originally it was BB-8 who went with Rey, which makes sense for the story in a way. But I asked, ‘Can you do me this solid and switch the droids?’”
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