– by Joseph Jammer Medina

*This Post Is A SPOILER Discussion About Something That Occurred In STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS*

Boy, oh boy. I didn’t even know this was a thing!

Apparently, some folks have made a stink about the fact that in STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS General Leia (Carrie Fisher) hugged Rey (Daisy Ridley) instead of Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) when they returned to the Resistance base after destroying Starkiller Base. Some saw it as a slight against Chewie, with whom Leia has a longer relationship, and who is likely reeling from the death of his best friend, Han Solo (Harrison Ford). To fans who picked up on that, it was a head-scratcher that Leia would show more emotion consoling Rey- a relative stranger- than Chewie.

/Film had a chance to ask director J.J. Abrams about that moment, in a chat meant to talk up his latest production 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE. Here’s what Abrams had to say about this STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS moment:

“That was probably one of the mistakes I made in that. My thinking at the time was that Chewbacca, despite the pain he was feeling, was focused on trying to save Finn and getting him taken care of. So I tried to have Chewbacca go off with him and focus on Rey, and then have Rey find Leia and Leia find Rey. The idea being that both of them being strong with the Force and never having met, would know about each other — that Leia would have been told about her beyond what we saw onscreen and Rey of course would have learned about Leia. And that reunion would be a meeting and a reunion all in one, and a sort of commiseration of their mutual loss.”

Good on him for actually taking the time to consider this critique, and to own up for, perhaps, inadequately framing that moment. Abrams even took it a step further by specifying exactly how he could’ve staged it differently:

“Had Chewbacca not been where he was, you probably wouldn’t have thought of it. But because he was right there, passed by Leia, it felt almost like a slight, which was definitely not the intention.”

So, there you have it. It was nothing personal. And, if anything, it was meant to foreshadow something about the deeper connection to The Force and the Skywalkers that Rey will eventually be revealed to have. 

Personally, I assumed as much. The moment didn’t phase me. In retrospect, now that it’s been pointed out, would I have liked to see a moment of shared grief between Leia and Chewie? Sure. But as I sat in the theater both times I watched STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS it didn’t cross my mind, and I completely understood why Leia and Rey shared that moment.

How about you? Did it bother you? Does the director’s explanation help you understand what was really going on? Are you hoping Chewie gets more love in the next STAR WARS movie? Discuss.

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Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.