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The Real Reason Kylo Ren Has A New Helmet In Rise Of Skywalker

With inner change comes outer change, right?

In writer-director Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi, the second installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, the villainous dark-sider Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) lightsaber-slashed his way to a new position of power within the First Order: Supreme Leader, snatching the title from his former mentor-slash-tormenter Snoke (Andy Serkis) after assassinating him in his throne room. The Skywalker saga-ending film The Rise of Skywalker, co-written and directed by The Force Awakens filmmaker J.J. Abrams, sees Kylo exercising his new authority — and taking on a new look to do more than just prove his power. 

Kylo Ren does indeed sport a new helmet in The Rise of Skywalker, built from the pieces of the helmet he broke in The Last Jedi after Snoke belittled him as "a child in a mask." The reworked headgear features jagged silver bits and red vein-like stripes running across it, evidence that Kylo welded the sections together to create a new helmet out of the old one. 

But why exactly does Kylo wear this in The Rise of Skywalker

The man behind the First Order deviant, Adam Driver, revealed the reason in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly: it's meant to reflect Kylo Ren's inner conflicts, his journey thus far, and who he is as a person at this moment in time. 

"It's another good example of [writers J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio] kind of leading what's going on externally with the character with what is going on internally," Driver explained. "That's not a new detail — it's been happening since The Force Awakens for that character. Even the first time we talked about putting on his suit, the suit was appropriately uncomfortable and that seemed like a really fun thing to play with — maybe he's literally uncomfortable in his own skin. It's restrictive in a way. And then he kind of goes through a rebirth over the second movie and starts to shed that a little bit and become who he is."

He continued, "He's a very unformed person, which is exciting to play and to have that be represented physically in a costume piece, or a lighting choice or, in this case, a helmet. It's a coming together, he's cherry-picked things he's looked at through his history and that he's decided he wants to claim for who he is. So it's a physical representation of how that character has grown."

How Adam Driver's approach to playing Kylo Ren changed from The Force Awakens to The Rise of Skywalker

As Kylo Ren has evolved over the course of the current Star Wars trilogy — going from an ambitious young man who idolized his grandfather Darth Vader and killed his own father Han Solo (Harrison Ford) as a way to achieve his goal of galactic domination to someone essentially desperate for power and a sense of personal value — so too has Adam Driver's approach to the character. The actor worked under director J.J. Abrams for The Force Awakens, which introduced to audiences Kylo Ren as the wayward son of Han Solo and Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher), then collaborated with Rian Johnson for The Last Jedi. With Abrams back in the saddle for The Rise of Skywalker, some changes were bound to come — especially to the on-set atmosphere. 

Chatting with CinemaBlend ahead of the launch of the new Star Wars movie, Driver opened up about how playing Kylo Ren changed for him over the years, particularly from The Force Awakens to The Rise of Skywalker

"There was just a shorthand right away that we didn't have on Force Awakens," Driver said of his experience filming The Rise of Skywalker. "There was no time wasted of, you know, 'Does he like me?' 'Am I giving him the right thing?' Right away we started this one with me like there was no idea that we can leave off the table. Everything that you're thinking and that I'm thinking we have to say and try it, because we only have this opportunity to do it. So there was, regardless of what it was, there was already an immediacy and familiarity with each other that there was no time wasted."

Driver also shared that he "definitely" experienced a sense of ownership over Kylo Ren, but never felt like he had a full "control" of him and never shut himself off to ideas about where the character would go next. This was helpful going into The Rise of Skywalker and during the making of the film, which had huge responsibilities in following up a different director's artistic vision and concluding the Star Wars story that began over 40 years ago. 

With Kylo's arc coming to a close in The Rise of Skywalker (at least as far as we know as of this writing, prior to the release of the film), Driver undoubtedly had to get into a certain frame of mind when portraying the character. What helped him get there? The cast and crew, whom Driver said gave him "ideas in the moment"; the set, which he described as "so clear and beautiful and that gives so much information"; and, of course, Kylo's costume — new helmet and all. 

See Kylo Ren's old-but-new headgear — plus a lot more awesomeness — when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker begins its Thursday-night preview screenings tonight, December 19.