There has been a lot of talk about the now infamous scene in Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi in which Adam Driver appears shirtless as Kylo Ren when he and Rey are communicating through the Force. The image pops up out of nowhere and many are wondering why it was included in the first place, but as with everything in Rian Johnson's vision of Star Wars, there is a reason for it. Many assumed that it was a throwback scene to when Anakin Skywalker was seen half naked in the prequels, but that is not the case. There are minor SPOILERS for The Last Jedi, so read ahead at your own risk.
The explanation of the shirtless scene when Kylo Ren and Rey are ForceTiming starts with the practical effects that Rian Johnson wanted to utilize instead of some CGI magic. The Last Jedi co-sound supervisor Ren Klyce talked about how Johnson's lack of VFX influenced the scene. He had this to say.
"The way in which (director Rian Johnson) decided to create the Force connection by just simply doing vertical cuts without using any CG... it's pure simplicity in terms of filmmaking with visual cuts. We cut to her side; we cut to Kylo Ren; we cut to her; and back and forth."
And as for the shirtless scene? Basically, the sound supervisor explained that Kylo appears sans shirt in order to show that Rey could see him while the two were Force-connected.
"That was important to establish what she was actually seeing. Was she hearing his voice or seeing his face or just his eyes? And so that [shirtless scene] is to inform the audience, 'Oh, she can see his body.'"
The Last Jedi editor Bob Ducsay further explained the Force connection topless scene, reiterating that it was intended to be handled "as if they were in the same room together, even though they're not." Kylo was shirtless to show what Rey could see during the Force connection. There might have been a bit of humor added to the mix as well. Ducsay explains.
"Over the course of those sequences, you come to understand all the rules of the Force connection. Ultimately, it's just good storytelling if the audience is learning things the same time the characters they're following are, instead of ahead or behind."
As for Rian Johnson, he claims that the scene was put in to add a bit of an uncomfortable intimacy feeling, but also adding that it was "fun." There is a line of comedy going throughout The Last Jedi, which is welcomed by some and not welcomed by others. However, the scene does work in the way that Johnson intended. The director had this to say.
"At the premiere I heard somebody in the balcony say, "Yesssss!" You can see Adam was training hardcore throughout the whole process. It's fun but it also has a specific purpose, which is the increasing feeling of uncomfortable intimacy. That was sticking with the theme of trying to give Rey the hardest thing you could possibly give her, which would be unavoidable intimate conversation with this person that she wants to just hate. This was just one more way of upping that ante."
So, the shirtless Kylo Ren scene is fun, serves the purpose of uncomfortable intimacy, and is a bit of great storytelling in order to show just how powerful Kylo and Rey's Force connection is. That's a lot to take in, but it's now justified by three different sources. Impress your friends next time you see The Last Jedi because the infamous topless Kylo Ren scene has been explained. You can read more about the scene in question via The Huffington Post.
"A buddy of mine saw Kylo Ren take his shirt off in the shower. And he said that Kylo Ren had an 8 Pack. That Kylo Ren was shredded." pic.twitter.com/u6DNMIUGHg— The Great Clement (@ClementJ64) December 15, 2017
i’ve been working out— Emo Kylo Ren (@KyloR3n) December 15, 2017
drew some kylo ren fan art pic.twitter.com/LtMung7Liu— what's even going on (@VagliArt) December 20, 2017