There is so much information out there, and sometimes it’s really difficult to discern what is the truth and what isn’t. It’s especially tricky when people who are crafty and well-informed (or know their way around various fandoms) know what to do to get something out there that will grab the attention of readers everywhere. This rings true for the rapidly spreading Reddit thread that is circulating social media and various sites right now about the supposed leaks from the production of The Rise of Skywalker.
If you find this thread convincing, you’re not alone. This type of post has to be somewhat convincing–when people want to put something out there, they don’t do it halfway. They go all out. However, there are so many reasons why we shouldn’t put stock in this Reddit thread and why it doesn’t make any sense.
Let’s take a gander at all these reasons:
Someone with that much information regarding J.J. Abrams and the entire movie and trilogy would not be some random member of the production team.
The information found in the thread comes from a source “who worked closely on the production of TROS and works for one of the major companies.” However, this doesn’t add up with everything that we know. Very few people knew even basic plot points in the film. The only people with access to the script were the main few. Even Keri Russell wasn’t given a full script and was only allowed to read it all the way through with security measures (which was mentioned in an ET Canada article back when John Boyega accidentally left his script in his hotel room):
John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver all star in lead roles in the film, while supporting players including Keri Russell only have minimal script access to their scenes.
Russell previously told Entertainment Weekly she was only allowed to read the full script in a guarded room and was able to read the preceding scene to hers.
“The security is insane,” Abrams adds. “The company [was] really nervous about anything getting out and so they had only a handful of scripts, printed on crazy, uncopyable paper.”
If the big names of the production were so hush-hush, there is no way some random member of the production team would have that much insight into what’s going on (and whoever would know all that information would never give it up for fear of risking their entire career spilling that caliber of information–they would almost definitely be discovered and blacklisted in the industry, at least to some extent).
The Divisive Rey/Ben Solo Relationship.
The Reddit thread claims J.J. Abrams was not behind the relationship between Rey and Ben Solo/Kylo Ren. This can be proven false in so many ways. Ever since “Reylo” (the fandom name for the characters’ relationship) became canon romantically in The Rise of Skywalker, many people online have gone to great lengths to try to discredit it. These people have been trying to hook people in any way that they can with the information they want to be perceived as true, or with whatever they think will get them a lot of followers, hits, likes, etc. A great example of this was the J.J. Abrams interview that was purposely taken out of context and spread around. There are so many people who want to seem reputable to spread what they want people to believe and look like they’re telling the truth.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with that J.J. Abrams interview incident, here’s a quick run-down: an online writer for TheDisInsider.com interviewed J.J. Abrams and put up a clip of him discussing what he thought about the direction of Rey and Kylo Ren’s relationship and dynamic in The Force Awakens. He went on to say that, basically, they didn’t know at that point where they were going with the two, much like how the creative team of the original trilogy weren’t sure what Luke and Leia’s relationship would be like in the first of the three films. He said, however, that Rey and Kylo Ren’s connection felt “romantic” to him (even when they weren’t sure yet where their relationship/dynamic would lead, which ultimately, did end up romantic after all).
Here are a couple screenshots from the DisInsider writer’s Twitter page when she was trying to clear up the misconception that was making its way to big websites’ headlines:
Abrams’ remarks during this interview bring us to the next reason why this Reddit thread doesn’t add up to previous comments, interviews, and articles by and about the production team and story of The Rise of Skywalker:
J.J. Abrams always found the relationship between Ben and Rey romantic.
Even before they knew what direction they were going to go in, Abrams felt the tie between the two was romantic. They weren’t sure yet what they were going to do, but they soon decided that a romantic thread in the story was alive and strong, and that it lied within Rey and the soon-to-be-redeemed Ben Solo. There are so many articles out there that back this up, and one of the more recent ones (other than that J.J. Abrams interview) is a Huffpost article where The Rise of Skywalker‘s editor, Maryann Brandon, detailed the important decision of whether Rey and Ben were going to end up kissing in this film or not. The article detailed the following:
“I always said, ‘The movie will tell us whether they should kiss or not. We will know by the time we get to the end of our process, if it should happen.’ And I felt it should, and [director J.J. Abrams] agreed with me, and other people who saw the film agreed.”
Brandon praised the performances in the scene, especially the moment Kylo Ren smiles, the first time the character has smiled in three movies.
“I know it’s not for everybody,” she said of the kiss. “I know there will be people who wish they hadn’t, but this is a film that was never going to please everyone, and I think that the reviews are kind of reflective of that. The things that certain people love, other people hated. And that’s the phenomenon of ‘Star Wars.’”
Questionable information from the Reddit post as a whole.
There are always nuggets of truth in any lie–especially a convincing one–so let’s brainstorm some things now, as we debunk various points from the Reddit thread, below.
Reddit article: My source mentioned this shortly after the premiere: “The TROS we saw last night was not the TROS we thought we worked on”.
My thoughts: Only a handful of members even knew what was going on. Of course they would be confused. Also, if Abrams and his team did last-minute editing later in the game because they were trying to figure out the best course of action for the film (which seems like a more likely theory), the result would be the same: that the actors and production members would be surprised at the end result. There is actually a way more convincing theory with much more evidence that Abrams and his team simply changed their minds and decided on a different ending in the end (but that, too, is just speculation).
Reddit thread: JJs original agreement when he signed on was indicating he would have way more creative control than he did on TFA. It became evident this wasn’t the case only a couple of weeks into shooting when the trouble with meddling started.
My thoughts: If this was the case, why would Abrams pick up the mantle for TROS? He wasn’t originally going to work on the final film. The original plan was that there would be a different director for each film, as was done in the original trilogy. When Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi bombed, Abrams came back. If his experience was truly like what was represented in this Reddit thread, it doesn’t seem likely that Abrams would work on TROS when he didn’t initially sign up for it.
Reddit thread: WB wants Abrams for some DC projects. My source said that this generation’s Star Wars is the MCU, and Marvel’s biggest threat is a well operational DC. They want to keep DC in the limbo that they’re in right now. Abrams jumpstarting that franchise with something like a successful, audience-pleasing Superman movie makes them nervous. Their goal is to make JJ look bad to potential investors/shareholders.
My thoughts: Really? Come on. Just read that one again and really think about it. Put it in perspective. Think about how much control ans power Disney has in the entertainment industry and how much pull they have. They have the best of the best working with them. am I really supposed to believe that this random conspiracy theory on Reddit is unveiling some secret plan that Disney is trying to sabotage J.J. Abrams? Give me a break. I find it very hard to believe that Disney would be so afraid of Abrams creating something with Warner Bros. that may potentially be good to the extent that they would wreck their own movie that could give them some of the most money of any of their projects. I would be more inclined to believe that Disney would become more entwined with Abrams as a director and try to work something out with him to create other projects for them if he does such a great job (and maybe at the very least try to busy him to stay away from DC? Even that sounds too conspiracy theory-esque, but it still seems like more of a logical solution than what this thread is claiming). Why would they hire him and then re-hire him to sabotage him? There are so many flaws to this logic, so I’ll just end right here.
Reddit thread: JJ was devastated and blindsided by this. He’s been feeling down over the last 6 months because of some of the ridiculous demands Disney had that changed his movie’s story. While the scenes were shot, a lot of the changes were made in post-production and the audio was rerecorded and altered. My source said they’ve never seen anything like this happen before. He’s the director and he wasn’t in the know about what they were doing behind his back.
Reddit thread: Apparently, JJ felt threatened over the month leading up to the premiere.
My thoughts: This is so vague. What did he feel threatened about exactly and how did this source know? Did Abrams confide in a close friend and then the friend turns around and tells a random person so that random person can post a bunch of bullet points about it on Reddit? Seems unlikely, but that’s just me.
Reddit thread: Rian was never meant to do IX despite some rumors that he was.
My thoughts: Okay, awesome. Moving on.
Reddit thread: JJ was brought back by Iger, not KK. Disney insisted on more fan service, less controversy.
My thoughts: Nugget of truth: Disney insists on fan service over controversy. This is not news. Disney shies away from controversy like the plague.
Reddit thread: JJ wanted to do some scenes he thought were important but Disney shut it down citing budgetary reasons
My thoughts: This could have actually been true, but who knows.
Reddit thread: May 2019: JJ argued that those scenes were crucial. He had to let go of one of the scenes. The other scene he insisted on was approved at first. He did reshoots and additional photography in July. The new scene was shot at BR in October.
My thoughts: This sounds like it could be another nugget of truth used to validate some of the rest of the article, as it sounds like something that is probably done in most major films (because despite what people may think, directors don’t have limitless power in a production).
Reddit thread: The “ending that will blow your mind” was a part of this. Older actors were included like Hayden, Ewan and Samuel and anyone who wasn’t animated. The force ghosts weren’t meant to be voices because they shot that footage on camera. The actors were in costumes. Rey was supposed to be surrounded by the force ghosts to serve as sort of a barrier between her and the Sith surrounding them.
My source thinks but can’t 100% confirm that this is because of China. It’s an office talk of sorts. Some VFX people claimed they got a list of approved shades of blue they could use on the Luke force ghosts. Cutting this out was when the bad blood turned into a nightmare for JJ because the movie he was making was suddenly unrecognizable to him in almost every way.
My thoughts: This sounds like more un-backed speculation. I do believe that the people were all supposed to be in it, and I do believe that something happened (whether due to budget issues, trying to keep the film under a certain time, etc.) that forced the creators to change this scene to voices instead of a full-blown scene with everyone in it, and this may have made Abrams unhappy. I would believe this, but I don’t know if it’s true. Regardless, none of this makes the rest of it true. If this one particular case (or part of it) was true, that doesn’t make the motive behind it Disney’s dirty work. It would be an entirely separate issue.
Reddit thread: My source knows JJ well enough to know that he’s just not the yelling type but apparently in a meeting he yelled something along the lines of “Why don’t you just put ‘directed and written by Lucasfilm’ then?” My source wasn’t present for that exchange but knows some who were.
My thoughts: So this source knows Abrams so well that they can spill all these secrets and then spills them the first change s/he gets? Doesn’t sound likely. Also, it’s very convenient that the instance where Abrams yelled was observed by enough people that it could be legitimized as having occurred and witnessed by many others but that the alleged source wasn’t present him/herself.
There are so many other bullet points in this thread, but to save time, here’s the final point that is really the kicker that wraps up this whole BS burrito together:
Reddit thread: JJ’s cut still exists and “will always exist”. We most likely will never see it unless “someone accidentally leaks it.”
My thoughts: If I had had any doubts of the illegitimacy of this article, it would have been solidified with this one final “statement.” J.J. had a lot of important decisions to make. He wasn’t on this project for the middle movie and likely had to figure out how to salvage the vision in his head with what remained. There may be deleted scenes that he wanted to add in there but wasn’t able to, and maybe he originally wanted a different ending, but there is no “J.J. cut” that is mysteriously lurking about in some deep dark corner somewhere.
Did Abrams have to compromise some of his vision? Probably. That’s normal when working on a film. Did Rian Johnson get all the scenes he wanted in The Last Jedi? I highly doubt it (check out the bonus features on the DVD of TLJ and watch the deleted scenes; it seems to me that he had to compromise some things too–that’s part of the job). Do I think J.J. Abrams was sidelined and sabotaged? Absolutely not. Also, he has unashamedly told interviewers that he knew he wasn’t going to please everyone. It’s impossible. All he could do was make the best product he could and deal with the consequences. No one was ever going to be 100% happy, and he was never under the illusion that he was going to make everyone happy. He made a film, and he did his best. It’s not more complicated than that.
On a slightly separate note, I do think he was blindsided by the hate inflicted upon him by Star Wars fans. I think he did his best and expected some hate but didn’t expect as much hate as he ended up getting. He was probably devastated by that and has stepped down from any possible Star Wars projects because of that. I’d probably step down in his shoes, too, because it would be so depressing to work so hard on a major film and then get nothing but angry fans hating you afterwards. He probably figured it wasn’t worth it (although, he may still work on a Star Wars production at some point in the future; after this storm passes, he may change his mind).
Now, many fans are upset, and rightfully so, about different aspects of this movie. However, as mentioned by a popular Star Wars social media figure, Jason Ward, in his own video regarding this issue, if we are upset because Ben Solo died, for instance, and we want to see more Ben Solo, we need to request more Ben Solo stories from Lucasfilm and make it known. Then they can figure out what to do if they decide to act on that. They can release information that he was in the “world between worlds” or whatever else they want to do or have up their sleeve. That’s what we can actually do when we’re not satisfied with a Star Wars movie or series. Making up fake threads and videos does nothing but troll innocent victims on the internet. People who make threads and videos like this Reddit thread are like corrupt politicians–they tell you interesting things with nuggets of truth, promising something that will make you happy for a second (or that sound interesting and exciting), but in the end, it’s all a pile of fantastic lies.
A good internet rule of thumb is to second guess everything (and believe none of what you read and half of what you see). There are many “convincing” threads and articles that are in-depth, well-researched, and eloquent and flowery and all that, without a shred of solid proof. Any John Doe could make a Reddit account (or use one with “history”), use the knowledge and theories they’ve obtained both online and within themselves and the various fandom communities actively swapping theories online, and then make a convincing argument stating that they know this because __.
A good example of how things can be easily fabricated when approached in the right ways from the right angles is the experiment writer Oobah Butler did in London with his fake restaurant that he got up on Trip Advisor. You can view the entire story here, but a quick summary is that the writer used to write fake reviews for restaurants before becoming a writer for Vice.com.
He said that he would get a few bucks and then write these false reviews. Afterwards, he became somewhat invested in these businesses. One day, he decided to make up a restaurant, be convincing, and see what happened. He said, “One day, sitting in the shed I live in, I had a revelation: within the current climate of misinformation, and society’s willingness to believe absolute bull***t, maybe a fake restaurant is possible?” Sadly, it was possible, but it did become an interesting social experiment that gave us all important insight on modern culture and how easy it is to be fooled online.
Unfortunately, people will, more often than not, believe whatever seems legitimate online because it’s hard to know what’s true and what isn’t. People have an ulterior motive in these situations 99% of the time. Finding reputable websites and sources, finding direct information, and then putting the pieces together yourself is always the way to go. If things don’t seem quite right about something, it probably isn’t right. I mean, a conspiracy theory to end J.J. Abrams’ career? Doesn’t seem likely.
I don’t think the issue around all of this was ever really about people believing that J.J. Abrams was being sidelined and micro-managed to the point of “ruining his own movie,” so to speak. It’s that Star Wars viewers all around the world were so disappointed in The Rise of Skywalker that they were having a hard time figuring out what happened and where to go from here. This has, in turn, caused a lot of sub-groups within the Star Wars fandom to swap theories and question everything because they’re all baffled about what happened. It’s too hard of a pill to swallow that Abrams didn’t live up to what many fans wanted to see and what they felt he could have done, so I think it’s sometimes easier for people to believe that he wanted something else but was bullied out of it.
Whatever happened, The Rise of Skywalker was created, finished, and released, and Abrams made his decisions. I don’t think the Skywalker saga will actually be left alone for very long, especially because of the uproar of how the last film ended. I think there were other safety nets put into play to insure this open-ended possibility, but that’s a topic for another day.
To all those who are struggling with the aftermath of The Rise of Skywalker: you’re not alone. Find peace within the fandom and stay away from the toxic chaos. The saga will continue in one way or another and will never truly be over. For now, let’s just wait to see what the DVD and novelization holds. And if you want to speculate about anything in the mean time, let’s just speculate about what Matt Martin is going to tell us about Ben Solo this year and keep the hope alive: