Encyclopedias could be filled by dissecting the relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren. And not just their connection, but the fact that Rey doesn’t know her parents and longs for them, while Ren knows his and rejects them. By the time of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, it seems the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa has all but destroyed the part of him called Ben Solo in favour of Supreme Leader Kylo Ren. Or at least that’s what we’re led to assume.
Kylo Ren himself, actor Adam Driver, was posed a question by moderator Ava DuVernay at the recent Rise of Skywalker press conference in Los Angeles. DuVernay asked if it was accurate to refer to his character as Ben Solo anymore. “Can he not be Ben Solo or has he rejected Ben Solo and I should not use those words?” she asked. Driver, coyly, slid his microphone to director J.J. Abrams, suggesting he couldn’t (or, more likely, shouldn’t) answer that question. But Abrams pushed the microphone back to Driver who said: “Yes and no.”
DuVernay then expanded: “In your performance of Kylo Ren, did you allow Ben Solo and who he was before to influence the way you then played Kylo? Or, once you entered into Kylo Ren, are you just in that place? Did you bring [Ben’s] legacy and charity into the performance with you [in The Rise of Skywalker]?”
Driver, cautious and contemplative as ever, took a beat and answered.
“I think maybe subconsciously,” he said. “When people are actively trying to deny certain parts of their lives, I think they can do it pretty successfully and then it just turns into what is happening around them.”
“But I don’t think it’s something that we actively talked about playing,” Driver continued. “It definitely is a thought to have [and] I think that’s a testament to the writing. From the beginning, being called ‘Force Awakens’ was intentional in that it was the force awakening for both sides, the light, and the dark. And J.J., even in those first meetings, talking about someone who is unformed, not in control of his faculties, [doesn’t] know where he fits, which again, is helpful for me as an actor because we were figuring out the same thing and it totally echoes what’s going on in the story, especially the first one. A new cast figuring out where we fit in a legacy that spans so much time.”
Cleverly avoiding talk of any “Bendemption” that could happen or not, it sounds like in The Rise of Skywalker, Driver plays Kylo as a fully upgraded, leveled-up, evil version of the character. Any part of Ben Solo that may have been in him during The Force Awakens is gone. And yet, Driver’s first instinct was to not answer the question. He pushed the microphone to his director. I think no matter what happens with Kylo Ren, Ben Solo will be appearing in The Rise of Skywalker, in some way.
We’ll all find out together when the film opens December 19.