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J.J. Abrams explains why The Rise of Skywalker retcons Rey's parentage

"The more shocking thing was the idea that you're from the worst possible place," he said.

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Daisy Ridley as Rey in The Rise of Skywalker.

Disney

The identity of Rey's parents in the Star Wars universe seemed to have been answered by Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi: They were nobodies -- filthy junk traders who sold her off for drinking money on the slave planet Jakku.

But J.J. Abrams' follow-up, The Rise of Skywalker, provided a second, definitive answer: Rey's father is related to Emperor Palpatine and was later clarified to be a failed clone by the movie's novelization. Rey's parents abandoned her to protect her from her evil grandfather.

Speaking at the Academy screening last week (via Collider), Abrams has since addressed why he and writer Chris Terrio chose to effectively retcon that element of the story.

"I think one of the themes of the [The Last Jedi] is that anyone can be anything regardless of where you're from," Abrams said, acknowledging Johnson's take on the character's heritage.

"And I don't know if it resonates for everyone but I think there are quite a few people who appreciate that idea of not coming from a place that you're not particularly excited about following or proud of."

Now playing: Watch this: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - Official Trailer (2019)
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However, Abrams' wanted to take Rey to an even darker place.

"And though I completely understand 'you're nobody' is a devastating thing, to me the more painful, the more shocking thing was the idea that you're from the worst possible place.

"And is that thing that you feel that you know is part of you somehow, that you're haunted by, is that your destiny? And the idea that there are things more powerful than blood, as Luke says, that thing was a really important thing to convey for us."

The Rise of Skywalker included several elements that seemed to retcon its predecessor: The reduced role of Rose Tico spurred criticisms of unfair erasure, while Palpatine's surprise return from the dead yoinked Kylo Ren's Supreme Leader title from The Last Jedi.

You can see those retcons and more by streaming The Rise of Skywalker, out now on digital. Or, even better, watch Johnson's Knives Out.