J.J. Abrams was surprised Rian Johnson chose to kill off a certain character in The Last Jedi. And no, it's probably not the one you're thinking of right now. Johnson made some pretty wild story choices that are either seen as bold by some Star Wars fans, or as bad choices by others. The director flipped the script and delivered a left turn, which was a sharp contrast to what Abrams did in 2015's The Force Awakens. The second installment in the sequel trilogy has a few deaths and one in particular stood out to Abrams.
J.J. Abrams was just as surprised as a lot of Star Wars fans when he read the script for The Last Jedi. Watching Kylo Ren kill Snoke was a huge shocker that nobody saw coming, but this isn't the death that surprised Abrams. Neither was the death of Luke Skywalker or Laura Dern's Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. Instead, it was Gwendoline Christie's Captain Phasma. He explains.
"Obviously, I had read the script. It wasn't like I just went to go see The Last Jedi, but I saw what Rian was doing. What I loved about his approach was that he was just subverting expectations, everywhere you looked. And I think that maybe the biggest surprise... you think Luke dying maybe was the biggest surprise or - I guess spoiler alert - [Kylo] Ren killing Snoke, there were certain things that felt like they were... weirdly, for me, the thing that was the most surprising was Phasma dying."
The death of Captain Phasma caught J.J. Abrams off-guard because he thought she was "one of those characters that I felt there was something else [for her to do]." Captain Phasma always seemed like she was destined to do more in the Star Wars universe. She was heavily featured in the promotional material for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, but never really got much screen time. Abrams went on to talk about the decision to kill off characters in the franchise. He had this to say.
"No one wants a character to die, and yet, I know that when we had Kylo Ren kill Han Solo, that was done because Harrison always knew that there needed to be utility for the character, and he had famously always wanted Han to die and serve that purpose. But it felt like this was a way to begin to define Kylo Ren, not just a way to kill a character. So I can see why Rian chose to do that with some of these characters. But I guess for me the biggest surprise, weirdly, was Phasma dying the way she did."
The death of Han Solo in The Force Awakens was quite possibly the biggest surprise in the sequel trilogy thus far. Luke Skywalker's hermit lifestyle filled with negativity is probably a close second, along with his death. J.J. Abrams is trying to top all of it with The Rise of Skywalker, which hits theaters in a few weeks from now. Abrams is back to close out the final installment in the Skywalker Saga.
Opinions on the sequel trilogy have been mixed, depending on the Star Wars fan you ask. The prequel trilogy suffered the same fate, though fans have started to come around to them in recent years. It's possible that The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker will see the same kind of thing happen in the next handful of years. You can check out the interview with J.J. Abrams below, thanks to the Fox 5 YouTube channel.