Anthony Breznican
November 19, 2017 AT 01:30 PM EST

To read more on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, pick up the new issue on stands Monday. You can buy the set of four covers here, or purchase individual covers featuring Kylo Ren/Rey, Finn/Rose, Poe/Holdo, or Luke/Leia now. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

He hates her. This girl. This garbage picker. This amateur who somehow drew his family lightsaber to her hand, overpowering his own bond with the Force.

And yet, Adam Driver says Kylo Ren can’t help but harbor an admiration for Daisy Ridley’s Rey in The Last Jedi.

“He has been aware of this ability in himself from such a young age, and I don’t think there’s a lot of people around him who are on the same level,” the actor says. “I think that there is something familiar there, as well as something to be feared, or something … that he can’t quite place.”

This burns at him, too. He craves respect, so he has none to spare. It just wells up in him as more corrosive envy.

Rey is unburdened by these distractions. She doesn’t think anything about him at all.

The dynamic between them, the dark and the light, pushing and pulling at each other, is the heart of the Dec. 15 film, and although they are on opposite sides, their fates are still interlocked. That’s why writer-director Rian Johnson paired them on the first of EW’s four covers devoted to the movie.

Ed Miller/© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved

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Rey doesn’t have his will to power over others. All she wants is to understand this ability that appeared within her – and to use it to help others. “She doesn’t really know what she wants,” Ridley tells EW. “She really is trying to do the right thing and morally, her compass is really pointing north.”

But that she could still be led astray.

“The Resistance is really not that much to her,” the actress says. “I mean, she’s been left her whole life, and very quickly is eager to sort of help other people, which is wonderful. She wants to be part of something. I mean, everyone wants to be part of something.”

But when Luke Skywalker displays fear toward her, and rejects her rather than embracing her as a student, Rey feels cast out. After all, Luke banished himself rather than help the Resistance, and has now decided that the order he devoted his life to must end. The Last Jedi will find her adrift.

That’s where Kylo Ren once found himself, too.

The Darkening Son

Both of these main characters know what it’s like to feel abandoned.

Driver says Kylo began turning against his mother and father, Leia Organa and Han Solo, because he felt they cared more about the Rebellion and rebuilding after the fall of the Empire than they cared about him. That created a bitterness that ultimately consumed him.

“I think the idea of someone whose parents are very much devoted to the cause, that’s something a lot of people could relate to, whether it be religion or politics or a business,” Driver says. “Not identifying with [that cause] yourself, I think can give someone a complex.”

Selfish? Sure, a little. Maybe more than a little. But it’s also understandable, even in our world. Ironically, Kylo Ren just rebelled against an actual Rebellion.

“Looking around and not seeing yourself and not identifying with what’s around you, I think, affects how we behave,” Driver says.

After the events of The Force Awakens, and his choice to end one of the most beloved figures in George Lucas’ universe, Kylo is still trying to figure out if he did was the right thing – if only for himself.

“From his perspective, what he’s done is hopeful,” Driver says. “If anything he has justice. I think he’s surprised by how he would feel after Han Solo. He’s hoping for hope. He’s hoping for clarity.”

Is redemption possible?

“There’s a big part of the story yet to be written and not by me,” says Johnson, who will hand the trilogy back to The Force Awakens filmmaker J.J. Abrams for 2019’s Episode IX. “But I don’t think it’s very interesting if the whole story is just ‘Will Kylo get his comeuppance?’ He’s a more complicated character than that and I think he deserves a more complicated story than that. I don’t see the point of trying to get behind his mask and learn more about him if all we’re going to learn is ‘Yeah, he’s just an evil bad guy that needs to be killed.’”

Jonathan Olley/© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.

Two Unstoppable Forces

When Rey feels rejected by Luke Skywalker, who also sees parallels between the power in her and the abilities of his estranged nephew, the old Jedi master inadvertently pushes the two toward each other.

“This is very much about Rey trying to figure out how she fits into all this, much like any of us as we’re growing up, as we’re transitioning from childhood into adulthood,” Johnson says. “You’re going meet people who you think are going help who don’t. And help is also going come from unexpected places.”

That unexpected place is Kylo Ren, and the situation she finds herself in – alone, unappreciated, is similar to where Ben Solo found himself when broke from his Uncle Luke and followed the Knights of Ren down a darker path.

Supreme Leader Snoke, the enigmatic ruler of the First Order, detected the power in him and saw someone who could be swayed. But the young man’s shaky resolve means he could also be swayed back.

“Anybody that’s committed to anything, at a certain point in their life … you kind of constantly question why you got into it in the first place,” Driver says.

Rey and Kylo Ren are reaching toward each other in combat, but each one could also end up pulling the other to his or her side.

The Last Jedi week continues at EW on Monday:

  • Meet the new boss: Laura Dern’s Vice Admiral Holdo
  • The evolution of the crystal foxes
  • Kelly Marie Tran’s twin suns moment

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