Nick Romano
September 07, 2017 AT 08:30 AM EDT

Who exactly is The Last Jedi? Many Star Wars fans have been picking their brains over that question to director Rian Johnson‘s Episode VIII of the Skywalker Saga, and the powers that be have been vague in the past. Is it Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker, since he was referenced as “the last Jedi” in the opening title crawl for The Force Awakens? Is “Jedi” plural in this case? Is it Daisy Ridley’s Rey, emerging as a new pupil for the war-weary knight?

Johnson had a more definitive answer in a new interview with The New York Times.

“It’s in the opening crawl of The Force Awakens,” he clarified. “Luke Skywalker, right now, is the last Jedi. There’s always wiggle room in these movies — everything is from a certain point of view — but coming into our story, he is the actual last of the Jedi. And he’s removed himself and is alone on this island, for reasons unknown.”

Perhaps this will change, as the filmmaker confirmed “the heart of the movie is Luke and Rey.” He said, “It follows all the other characters, but its real essence is the development of the two of them. And it’s absolutely tied up in that question of, What is Luke’s attitude toward the Jedi?”

Johnson and Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm and producer on The Last Jedi, dodged questions over the title’s meaning in Vanity Fair‘s big Star Wars cover story. On whether the title was meant to be plural or singular, she said, “In my head, it’s singular. It makes sense with the story, to me, that it’s singular.”

During a chat with ABC News in April, Johnson wouldn’t confirm the title as a reference to Luke. “Well, if you say so,” he said to the suggestion. “I’m gonna take your word for it. They say in The Force Awakens that he’s going to find the last Jedi temple, and Luke is the last Jedi.”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi will also pick up with John Boyega’s Finn, Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron, Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, and a host of returning players. We’ll also see Laura Dern’s purple-haired Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, Benicio Del Toro’s “enigmatic” DJ, Kelly Marie Tran’s Resistance mechanic Rose Tico, and an evil droid counterpart for BB-8.

The film will hit theaters — and answer more burning theories — on Dec. 15.

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