Star Wars Episode 9 Director Addresses "Fanboy Menace" And The Knights Of Ren

"We don’t have to agree with every single thing to love something."

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The Skywalker saga ends next month with the release of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, concluding a nine-movie story that began with the 1977 release of the original Star Wars. Director J.J. Abrams has dissuced the film, and some of the decisions he has made for it, with Esquire. As well the movie itself, Abrams was asked to comment on the toxicity of the fandom around the franchise.

When asked about the Knights of Ren, Kylo Ren's team last seen in The Force Awakens, Abrams says that he's excited to explore them further. "We came up with them in Force Awakens and had very brief sighting of them, it was something that we had a lot of ideas of sort of further adventures with them," he says. "All sorts of things that were not the focus of the central story, and never made it into the movie." The Last Jedi did not address the Knights of Ren, which has allowed Abrams to bring them back now. "I mean, they’re best kept more mysterious than familiar, which is just to say there aren’t going to be a lot of scenes with them taking their masks off and hanging out and eating sandwiches, but it felt like I definitely wanted to see more of them than we had."

Abrams is also asked to address toxicity in the Star Wars fan base, and how the response to the movies may have changed over time. "The reaction to Star Wars, the increased attacks, the increased negativity, the Fandom Menace as they call it, you know, that is not unique to Star Wars," he says. "I think we live in a time where if you’re not being divisive...sometimes you don’t quite feel like you’re playing the game."

Abrams says that, as someone who loves Star Wars, he hopes that "we can return to a time where we give things a bit more latitude," where the movies will be judged with "nuance and acceptance." In a recent discussion, The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson called Star Wars fans "the best fans in the world," despite the negative reception he has received from some of them.

Elsewhere in the interview, Abrams states that he hasn't seen the "final final" version of the film yet, and that he believes that Carrie Fisher would have been happy with and proud of her role in it. He also discusses Baby Yoda, saying that it's "not just cute but implies a story." He reveals that he's not currently working on anything further Star Wars related, although in the future he might well want to become involved again. "It’s a bit like asking someone at the end of a meal at French Laundry, you know, if they want to get a burger. It’s like, you know, I’m sure that one day having a burger would be the greatest idea in the history of time, but in this moment I’m full."

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker arrives in cinemas on December 20. A new promo, set to Duel of the Fates, was recently released.

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