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The Last Jedi: Rey takes her first steps toward uncovering her family history

Part 7 of EW’s ‘Star Wars’ cover story.

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Rey’s family has become the “Rosebud” of Star Wars: Who are they? What’s their significance? How will that revelation shape her destiny?

The mystery was introduced in The Force Awakens when Daisy Ridley’s desert scavenger touched the ancestral Skywalker lightsaber and saw a series of visions, including a starship abandoning a much younger version of herself on the junkyard world of Jakku.

Now, The Last Jedi will finally resolve the question that fans have been debating for two years.

This article, obviously, won’t spoil anything. The theory I’m holding onto is still this one.

But in EW’s interview for our cover story on The Last Jedi, writer and director Rian Johnson did offer his thoughts on a related question: How much does Rey’s past matter — or is this a tangent fans have obsessed over unnecessarily?

“To me, it’s important insofar as it’s important to her,” Johnson says. “And I think it’s important to her in terms of what is her place in all of this? What’s going to define her in this story? She was told in the last movie that the answer’s not in the past; it’s looking forward. But she’s showing up on this island to talk to this hero from the past.”

Let’s just pause for a line from Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon For the Misbegotten: “There is no present or future — only the past, happening over and over again — now.”

If Rey understands her origin, it can be a map for her future, a guide to avoiding whatever fear or mistakes have come before. In that way, Johnson says Rey does need to know. (And so do we.)

“You can be told [‘the answer’s not in the past’], but I think she still has a lingering hope that she’s going to find the thing that’s going to say: This is where you belong. This is where you are. I think she still holds onto the thought that where she comes from will help define where she’s going.”

ONCE WAS LOST

ILM/© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.

Ridley says Rey will ultimately find the answer — and discover that it doesn’t matter that much. It won’t change who she is, or at least who she wants to be.

“You can always look for answers and that doesn’t mean that the rest of your life is so easy. It’s not like, oh, I know who my parents are so now everything falls into shape, especially in the Star Wars world,” the actress says.

Anakin Skywalker had a loving mother but became the galactic warlord Darth Vader. Luke and Leia are the children of Vader but have fought tirelessly for good and decency. Ben Solo was the son of Han and Leia, but lost his way and fell into darkness, like his grandfather before.

Family gives you the starting point, but the destination is a matter of choice.

Still, Ridley agrees that Rey needs to find out about her lineage, at least so she can stop wondering.

“Yes, it would potentially change her mind, or at least give her a little bit more peace in moving forward. But ultimately what’s coming is coming, and whatever abilities she has are there. So, personally, I think it’s less important than even she may think.”

One thing Ridley said to expect from The Last Jedi is that no one falls easily onto the good or bad side. There is always potential to change — for better and for worse.

“What’s wonderful is it’s not so cut and dry, who’s good and who’s bad and that’s not me saying, ‘Oh, my God, some people are gonna go bad,'” Ridley says. “There’s always room for bad people to make good decisions and vice versa. Again, that could be nothing to do with your parents and it could be everything to do with your parents.”

There’s also another new figure in the Star Wars saga who has uncertain origins, but fans haven’t latched onto theories about him the way they have with Rey.

FINN’S FAMILY MYSTERY

All we know about John Boyega’s ex-stormtrooper Finn is that he was expendable for the First Order, probably less valuable than the white armor he wore into battle. He was a child soldier, taken from wherever he was from and conscripted into their fascist military operation. He didn’t even have a name, just numerals and a number: FN-2187.

Will we find out more about Finn’s family?

ILM/© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.

“Yeah, definitely,” Boyega tells EW. “But it’s not explored in depth in Episode VIII. But he definitely has a past that is troubled. … I don’t know how all that’s going to play out.”

Sounds like more about Finn may be forthcoming in Episode IX. But the actor suggested that The Last Jedi will explore the character’s recent history.

“We will learn more about his past and where he came from, and potentially why he made the decision [to escape] that he made,” Boyega says. “I’m also very curious. The question that needs to be answered is why he decided to leave as a stormtrooper in the first place. We will find out just a little bit more about him.”

Even though they are separated for much of the film, Finn and Rey remain on somewhat parallel journeys of self-discovery.

“The big thematic push and pull in the movie is the past and what role the past has in moving us forward into the future,” Johnson says.

NEXT UP: Tales from the Dark Side — where will The Last Jedi find Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma? (And a mourning Chewie?)

Part 1 – Luke and Rey

Part 2 – Finn and Rose

Part 3 – Porgs and Caretakers

Part 4 – Snoke and the Praetorian Guard

Part 5 – Leia and Poe

Part 6 – Benicio Del Toro’s DJ

The Last Jedi is out in December.