I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't talk about the elephant in the room, which is the whole Rey's parents thing. What were your initial thoughts going into resolving this mystery after it was seemingly cleared up in the prior movie?
Well, we weren't convinced that it had been cleared up, because there's still this highly troubling vision that Rey had in Episode VII, which is the shop with her parents leaving the planet. Also, the events of The Last Jedi are literally just after the events of Episode VII—within 48 hours, Ray has had a force-back to her parents and then the very next day is told "your parents were no one and they were junk traders. None of that matters." And we thought in a way that would be too easy because of the idea that Rey had been longing for her parents for so many years. We just felt like there was something more going on.
Speaking of families and generations and the definitive answer about Rey's lineage I have to ask: what was the roadmap going into this? What had already been decided on from up high?
J.J. doesn't love talking about how the sausage is made, particularly in terms of what part of what story started when, so I won't get into that so much. The Last Jedi was a very interesting middle act and in fact, does the things that a middle act should do, which is to create this highly surprising and seemingly untenable situation moving forward, which is to say that the worst bad guy, Snoke, is dead, and the best good guy, Luke, is dead.
Rian sort of set up a challenge not only for the filmmakers, but for the characters. At the end, everyone is left with almost nothing. So as a storyteller, you have to start using all your tools because you're left with a lot of questions and not a whole of answers. So we had to recommit to a few aspects of the story and perhaps be a bit more inventive about what was going on in the galaxy.