When Star Wars made its triumphant return to mainstream pop culture with The Force Awakens, it introduced a fresh set of leading characters along with a plethora of mysteries and questions for fans to ponder. Among the most compelling enigmas was Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) family background and lineage. Who was this orphaned girl left to fend for herself on a desolate desert planet? The parallels to the Skywalker lineage from the previous trilogies were evident, but the presence of Ben Solo (Adam Driver) appeared to challenge that notion. The mystery appeared to be unraveled in The Last Jedi, revealing that her parents were essentially nobodies, insignificant players in the grand drama of the vast Star Wars universe. However, even that revelation wasn’t the final word, as The Rise of Skywalker firmly established Rey as the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine (yes, the Emperor Palpatine himself). The culmination of that film saw her reject that lineage and instead adopt the prestigious Skywalker name. Amidst all the twists and turns in this family saga, fans may be surprised to learn that Rey’s original concept did not tie her to the Palpatines, Skywalkers, or even obscure galactic nobodies. Instead, the earliest plans for her character envisioned her as the descendant of one of Star Wars’ most significant figures: Obi-Wan Kenobi.
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In ‘Star Wars’ Rey Was Originally Meant to be a Kenobi
In an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Daisy Ridley shared an intriguing tidbit about Rey’s origin story. She revealed that one of the initial concepts for her character was a connection to Obi-Wan Kenobi. This revelation sheds light on the creative process behind Rey’s character development.
In the wake of Episode VII’s release, fans were captivated by the mystery surrounding Rey’s parentage and her potential ties to established Star Wars characters. At the time, Ridley believed that “a lot was answered in The Force Awakens,” leading fans to dissect every frame of the film in search of clues. The theory that Rey was connected to Obi-Wan gained traction for several reasons. Ridley’s British accent, reminiscent of Obi-Wan’s, added to the intrigue. Additionally, when Rey first wielded Anakin’s lightsaber in Maz Kanata’s palace, it was Obi-Wan’s voice that resonated, further fueling speculation. Rey’s aptitude with the Force, particularly her skill in the Jedi mind trick, was also reminiscent of Obi-Wan’s abilities. From character design to dialogue, all signs seemed to point toward a connection with Obi-Wan.
However, while Rey Kenobi may have been an initial concept, it was not set in stone. Director Rian Johnson took a different direction in The Last Jedi, emphasizing the broader scope of the Force by revealing Rey’s parents as unremarkable individuals with no ties to the larger Star Wars universe. This creative decision stirred controversy, as fans felt it undermined the mystery set up in the previous film.
With J.J. Abrams returning for the final installment of the trilogy, the possibility of Rey being Palpatine’s granddaughter emerged. Ridley recalled that this decision wasn’t finalized until Episode IX was already in production. This move was widely viewed as a retcon of Johnson’s narrative choice, and it elicited a mixed-to-negative response from fans. Regardless of the differing opinions on these creative decisions, the Star Wars canon now firmly establishes Rey as a Palpatine, albeit one who chooses to carry on the Skywalker name.
What if Rey Was a Kenobi?
For a moment, let’s indulge in some imaginative speculation about what might have been in the Star Wars universe, even if it can’t be part of the official canon (as seen with the beloved Legends media still cherished by fans). So, what if the original concept had remained, and Rey turned out to be a Kenobi? Exploring this hypothetical scenario allows us to appreciate some of the enduring strengths of the Star Wars franchise.
One of these strengths is its ability to establish connections and parallels across different generations of films. George Lucas once described his vision for the series as being akin to poetry, where themes and motifs rhyme across different installments. This idea could have continued in the sequel trilogy by having a Kenobi learn from a Skywalker, just as several Skywalkers had learned from Obi-Wan in the past.
Although the primary focus of the Star Wars films is often referred to as the Skywalker Saga, Obi-Wan Kenobi was undeniably a linchpin in the overarching narrative. He made appearances in all six of the original films, even if it was as a Force ghost in some instances. In the prequels, he was essentially Anakin’s brother; in the original trilogy, he was Luke’s first mentor. However, in the sequels, Obi-Wan’s presence was notably absent. Given that Obi-Wan had mentored numerous Skywalkers, it would have been poetic to see Luke and Leia pass on their knowledge to a member of the Kenobi family. Even though the central focus remained on the Skywalker lineage, the importance of Obi-Wan’s connection to that family should never be underestimated.
Through Ben Solo, we witnessed the continuation of the Skywalker legacy. Consequently, introducing Rey into the Kenobi family line could have added significant depth to the theme of family bonds not necessarily bound by blood relations. Obi-Wan found redemption for his past failures when he guided Luke on his journey to defeat the Emperor and redeem Darth Vader. In a world where Palpatine’s return became a reality in the sequel trilogy, the Kenobi lineage could have played a pivotal role in finally bringing an end to the reign of evil.
Leaving theories and discussions aside, it’s worth noting that Daisy Ridley is slated to return to the Star Wars universe in an upcoming film. This exciting prospect has fans everywhere eagerly anticipating what Rey Skywalker has been up to in the years following the events of the sequel trilogy.