With everybody asking director J.J. Abrams about his upcoming film The Rise of Skywalker and perhaps about George Lucas‘ original iconic trilogy, EW’s Dalton Ross instead asked the director for his favorite scene from the Star Wars prequels.
“There’s just something about that scene,” Abrams says. “There’s just two people sitting there. It’s visually interesting. But I just think Ian’s performance in it is spectacular.”
Abrams then asked Ross for his own favorite scene and the host named the climactic lightsaber battle in The Phantom Menace, where Darth Maul (Ray Park) gets bisected by Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor).
Abrams acknowledged the scene was “amazing” but also found it disappointing because Maul was so heavily hyped in the film’s marketing and then was quickly killed off before he had a chance to develop as a character. “It was over too quickly,” Abrams said (while dutifully acknowledging that Maul lives on in The Clone Wars animated series).
Somewhat similarly, Abrams recently was asked his reaction to Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi script, which killed off the new trilogy villain Supreme Leader Snoke (which Abrams introduced in The Force Awakens). “When I read his first draft, it made me laugh, because I saw that was his take and his voice,” he said. “I got to watch cuts of the movie as he was working on it, as an audience member. And I appreciated the choices he made as a filmmaker that would probably be very different from the choices that I would have made. Just as he would have made different choices if he had made Episode VII.”
Here’s that Palpatine-Anakin scene, which really is a terrific choice. In a trilogy full of meeting scenes, this two-hander was perhaps the most pivotal in all three films and McDiarmid is riveting — plus his interest in immortality could be a clue to the character’s return in The Rise of Skywalker.
In other Rise of Skywalker news, Abrams also revealed the running time for the new film.
The Rise of Skywalker opens Dec. 20.
To read more on The Rise of Skywalker and other untold stories from the Star Wars universe, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly at Barnes & Noble now — or buy your choice of covers featuring stars of the prequels, original trilogy, or current saga. (The issue will be on newsstands starting Nov. 28.) Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.