*WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FORCE AWAKENS*
Ever since the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens two years ago, fans have furiously speculated about to the identity of Rey’s parents. But Daisy Ridley, the actress who plays Rey, the loveable scavenger with Force sensitivity, said she was under the impression that Rey’s parentage was obvious in The Force Awakens.
“I thought a lot was answered in ‘The Force Awakens,’” said Ridley in an interview with Time Out for her part in The Eagle And the Huntress. “Then after the screening I went for a drink with my agent and everyone, and we were chatting away and I realized that oh, in their minds it’s not answered at all!”
We do know that, regardless of who we might think Rey’s parents are, the answer will most likely be set in stone soon. According to a Japanese promotional poster for The Last Jedi, “The most shocking truth in Star Wars history will soon be revealed.” It must be noted, though, that “shocking” could also be translated here as “devastating, gut-wrenching, startling, sensational, astounding, or astonishing.”
Before delving into who Rey’s parents are, it’s important to address the common misconception that her parents were not in The Force Awakens. In an interview with Chris Rock at the TriBeCa Film Festival, J. J. Abrams said, “Rey’s parents are not in Episode VII. So I can’t possibly in this moment tell you who they are.” Seems pretty clear, right? Not really.
When Entertainment Weekly reached out to Abrams about this comment, he clarified, “What I meant was that she doesn’t discover them in Episode VII. Not that they may not already be in her world.”
Therefore, anyone is fair game, even characters seen in Episode VII.
Rey is Luke’s Daughter
Taking into account Ridley’s previously mentioned comments about how she thought her parents had already been revealed, there are a few obvious candidates to consider, the first and (arguably) most popular being Luke Skywalker.
The assumption here is that Luke found some lucky lady to have a child with during the time between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. There are many ways that Rey could have gotten stranded on Jakku if she is indeed Luke’s daughter. One theory is that she was living with Luke at his Jedi Academy. As a refresher, Ben Solo was originally trained in this same Academy, but he eventually turned on Luke, killing all of the students in the Academy and pledging loyalty to Supreme Leader Snoke as Kylo Ren. This Rey Skywalker theory rests upon the assumption that Kylo Ren killed everyone but Rey, and she somehow escaped to Jakku. Maybe he was too weak mentally to kill his five-year-old cousin, and later hid her on Jakku. Or maybe Luke hid her on Jakku to keep her out of harm’s way.
The problem with the Rey Skywalker theory is that it seems suspiciously obvious. This wouldn’t be a very “shocking truth,” as promised by the Japanese poster.
Rian Johnson, the director of The Last Jedi, did tell Rolling Stone that, “Surprise is fine, but surprise by itself is cheap.” It’s possible that Johnson is endorsing the Rey Skywalker theory here. Even more telling, Johnson said, “The emotional and deeply-rooted resonance of “I am your father” is why we remember it. Not because, ‘Oh my god, I never would have [guessed] that he was.’”
Rey is Han and/or Leia’s Daughter
There’s also the possibility that Rey and Kylo Ren are siblings, or half-siblings. This long-lost sibling storyline would echo Luke and Leia’s sibling discovery in the original trilogy, and it has indeed been theorised that the new trilogy is trying to “rhyme” with the old one, evidenced by the extensive similarities between Episode VII (The Force Awakens) and Episode IV (A New Hope).
If they are siblings, then Han and Leia could have hid Rey on Jakku to keep Kylo Ren from finding her (to kill her or recruit her) because he knew she was strong in the Force. There’s also the possibility that Rey and Ben Solo (aka Kylo Ren) were both at Luke’s Jedi Academy, and Kylo (as in the cousins theory) couldn’t bring himself to kill his sister. There is a hole in this latter part of this theory, though: Rey would have been five years old at the time. Why would she be training at the Academy as a toddler?
Not all theories are quite so straight-forwards. The most notable example of this is the parent swap theory. This theory assumes that Kylo Ren is not Han and Leia’s son but rather Luke’s, and Rey is Han and Leia’s daughter. This would echo the surprise sibling plot point of the original trilogy, but it isn’t as predictable as Rey being Luke’s daughter.
While this theory is entertaining, it’s not very plausible. Why wouldn’t Leia recognize her own daughter? How did Rey end up on Jakku? The only ammunition there is for this theory is the fact that Kylo was originally named Ben after the name that Obi Wan used on Tatooine. It’s hard to believe that Han and Leia named their son after someone Han barely knew and Leia never even met. It would make more sense for Luke to have named his son after his first mentor. Also, Rey is inexplicably good at ship maintenance (as shown in The Force Awakens), and it would make sense for her to have inherited this talent from Han. This parent swap twist would also go with the “rhyming” theme discussed earlier; Kylo could say to Luke, “I killed my father,” and Luke could respond, “No, I am your father.”
Of course there are always other theories that suggest Rey’s parents weren’t shown in The Force Awakens. She could be Obi-Wan’s granddaughter, theorized on the basis of her accent, which is reminiscent of Obi Wan’s accent. But this theory had pretty much been debunked by John Boyega, Finn’s actor. When the interviewer, Kevin McCarthy from Fox 5, suggested that Rey could be related to Obi-Wan, Boyega said, “I think the fans should move on from that one. Guys, trust me, I’ve got your back. Move on from that one.” He could be lying to throw us off the scent, but that’s unlikely. We should probably just give up on the Obi-Wan theory.
There’s also the possibility that Rey is related to someone on the Dark Side, like Palpatine, since people say her music is similar to his, or Snoke, because people just love theorizing about Snoke.
One popular theory is that Rey is the daughter of two characters from the new Electronic Arts Star Wars: Battlefront II video game. Regardless of how good the arguments are for and against this theory, I highly doubt that it’s true. The writers of The Last Jedi most likely want the movie to be digestible for fans who don’t like video games, or who didn’t decide to play Battlefront II. If this theory about Rey’s parents is true, then if you haven’t played Battlefront, you won’t know much about them. The Star Wars Extended Universe is fun, but it has been made clear that it will never be required reading for casual viewers who just want to understand the movies on their own. They’re not going to force people to play Battlefront II just to understand the movie. The backlash would be too strong.
Rey’s parents could be irrelevant nobodies, and she isn’t related to anyone already introduced in the Star Wars universe. Still, I find that unlikely as well, partially because it’s been hinted that her parents will be revealed in The Last Jedi, and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if they were randos. Also, it’s been made clear that Star Wars is about the Skywalkers, so whoever Rey is, it’s likely she’s related to them in some way.
Of course, there are crazier theories that I won’t even bother to cover here. Some people actually think she’s Kylo’s daughter, despite the fact that he would have been ten when she was born. There are also other perfectly reasonable theories as to who she’s related to– Qui-Gon Jinn, Boba Fett, Wedge Antilles, Darth Plagueis– that seem fine, but are just too unlikely to be worth covering.
Regardless of what happens in The Last Jedi, let’s hope it’s good. Regardless of what actually happens, we’re going to have to endure even more endless theorizing for two more years after this.