While it didn't come to pass, director Rian Johnson at least considered adding Anakin Skywalker to The Last Jedi in Force ghost form. Johnson, who directed the second entry in Disney's sequel trilogy, made the reveal recently on Twitter. Whether or not this would have improved the movie is up for debate but Johnson was weighing the possibility of adding the Jedi who became Darth Vader to a pivotal scene in the movie.
Recently, fans were asking Rian Johnson questions about Episode VIII on Twitter. It started with a fan asking if Johnson was the one who contributed "The Last Jedi" to the title, which he did. But then someone asked if Johnson ever considered adding Anakin's Force ghost to the sequel at any point in its development. Here's what Johnson had to say about it.
"Briefly for the tree burning scene, but luke's relationship was with Vader not really anakin, which seemed like it would complicate things more than that moment allowed. Yoda felt like the more impactful teacher for that moment."
The scene in question is of paramount importance to the movie. It takes place on Ahch-To, where Luke has been hiding out in isolation, just after Rey leaves to go confront Kylo Ren. Luke then heads to burn down the uneti tree, which contained the old Jedi texts. Luke has a brief chance of heart before Yoda, who appears as a Force ghost, calls down a bolt of lightning and burns down the tree for his former apprentice. Yoda then teaches Luke one final lesson before they watch the tree burn to the ground.
If Anakin Skywalker had appeared in this particular entry in the franchise, this would have been the most logical scene. But, as Rian Johnson explains, it may have served to complicate things. And it may have ultimately lessened the impact of Yoda's return. Plus, it's true that Luke didn't have much of a relationship with Anakin, save for the conclusion of Return of the Jedi. Anakin did end up returning in The Rise of Skywalker, albeit not in the flesh. Rey hears the Jedi's voice call to her during her battle with Palpatine. That was the extent of Hayden Christensen's involvement in the sequel trilogy. Amazingly, Anakin's name was never even mentioned once in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi or The Rise of Skywalker.
Though it ranks as one of the highest-grossing movies in history, Star Wars: The Last Jedi proved to be arguably the most divisive entry in the franchise to date. J.J. Abrams, who directed The Force Awakens, was brought back to conclude the trilogy with The Rise of Skywalker. As for Rian Johnson, he is, or at least was, attached to develop a new trilogy of Star Wars movies separated from the Skywalker saga. Though it has been quite some time since we've heard anything concrete regarding the project, and he has since moved on to Knives Out 2. You can check out the exchange from Rian Johnson's Twitter.