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We Now Know The Real Reason For Palpatine's Huge Return

Emperor Palpatine owes his return to Star Wars to another guy's exit.

Speaking with Empire, filmmaker Colin Trevorrow — who at one point was attached to write and direct the ninth film in the Skywalker Saga — disclosed that it was his replacement, J.J. Abrams, whose idea it was to bring back the iconic character.

Trevorrow's remarks to Empire — and believe us, it's not lost on us how weird it is that it was that particular publication which unearthed this info — focused on his time working on Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, which he and his writing partner Derek Connolly departed in September 2017, before it even had that title. The director, who is the driving creative force behind the Jurassic World franchise, suggested that the return of the notorious Sith Lord once known as Darth Sidious was a missing story element which caused the rest of the film's plot to quickly fall into place.

"Bringing back the Emperor was an idea JJ brought to the table when he came on board," Trevorrow said. "It's honestly something I never considered. I commend him for it. This was a tough story to unlock, and he found the key."

Trevorrow spent enough time working on Rise of Skywalker to score a story credit, but he wasn't willing to go into detail when asked about his specific contributions to the script. "That's not my place, especially right now," he said. "I know how hard this crew has worked over the past two years, a lot of them are working with us now on [the next Jurassic World movie]. I want to support them as they put this film out into the world. In the end, I'm just proud to have my name in space."

He did, however, give credit to Abrams for keeping what worked and jettisoning what didn't in regard to Rise of Skywalker's story. "I'm not sure anyone who chooses the creative life should expect things," he said. "But I'm grateful to JJ for embracing some of our ideas. It's exciting that fans will get to see the moments that felt essential to all of us."

Why did J.J. Abrams feel the need to include Palpatine in Rise of SKywalker?

Abrams, of course, co-wrote and directed Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens — and in a recent conversation with Uproxx, he hinted that the seeds for Emperor Palpatine's eventual return had been planted all the way back when that film was in the scripting stage. As to why, he suggested that given his commitment to making The Force Awakens feel more like a part of a whole than a new trilogy-starter, a more apt question was why not.

"When you look at this as nine chapters of a story, perhaps the weirder thing would be if Palpatine didn't return," Abrams said. "You just look at what he talks about, who he is, how important he is, what the story is — strangely, his absence entirely from the third trilogy would be conspicuous... When [co-writer Lawrence] Kasdan and I worked on The Force Awakens, we didn't do it in a vacuum. We very purposely looked at what came before. We chose to tell a story that touches upon specific things and themes and ideas that we've seen before, to begin a new story. But we examined all that came before to ask, where does this feel like it's going?"

Fortunately, Rian Johnson — who was brought in to write and direct the middle film in the sequel trilogy, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi — didn't step on Abrams' toes in crafting that film's story. "When Rian was brought on... we met and we talked about things, and he wrote his story," Abrams remembered. "And when I read the script, I realized this didn't get in the way of anything [Kasdan] and I talked about...There were some very specific things we did get to do in [Rise of Skywalker] that we were laughing and going, 'Oh my god, we're finally doing that thing we talked about five years ago.'"

Of course, Palpatine's role in the movie is still quite mysterious, so we have no way of knowing exactly what Abrams and Kasdan talked about a half decade ago that will finally come to fruition. Did Palpatine survive being tossed into a seemingly bottomless abyss by Anakin Skywalker at the conclusion of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi? Or, was he resurrected through some arcane means, through the power of the Dark Side of the Force? What the heck could his master plan possibly be, and how does it involve the Force-sensitive Rey (Daisy Ridley) and the heir apparent to the legacy of the Galactic Empire, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)?

Fortunately, all will be revealed very soon. Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker hits the big screen on December 20.