As the end of the Skywalker saga, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has to wrap up a lot of plot threads as well as nod to the entire nine-film series, which means there’s an awful lot of Easter Eggs, cameos and callbacks stuffed into its runtime.
But perhaps the most exciting moment for longtime fans comes towards the end of the film, when the legacy of the Jedi – and the actors who played them – to Star Wars as a whole truly comes into focus for Daisy Ridley’s Rey.
Look away now if you haven’t seen the film yet, because we’ll be dealing with partial spoilers hereon out.
You see, during Rise of Skywalker’s climactic final sequence, Rey attempts one last time to connect to the older, deceased Jedi that she’s failed to reach at other points during the film – and this time, she succeeds, with a host of deceased Jedi giving her the support she needs.
And that means a lot of former Star Wars stars speak to her in voiceover, including Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker (who appears elsewhere in the film as a Force Ghost) but also plenty of other Jedi past.
Mace Windu, Qui-Gon Jinn and Ewan McGregor (Star Wars)
From the original trilogy, we hear Alec Guinness’ Obi-Wan Kenobi (using archive audio), Frank Oz’s Yoda (who returned for The Last Jedi previously), Carrie Fisher’s Leia and Hamill, while from the prequel movies we welcome back the likes of Samuel L Jackson’s Mace Windu, Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn and the younger version of Obi-Wan played by Ewan McGregor, all recording new lines for the movie.
Audio of Guinness’ Obi-Wan is woven in alongside McGregor’s, though it’s the younger Kenobi who really has the final word, riffing on a classic Guinness line about “first steps” (which he previously recorded for a similar vision scene in The Force Awakens) to tell her: “These are your final steps Rey – reach out and take them.”
But the most exciting prequel return is none other than Anakin Skywalker himself, Hayden Christensen returning to the Star Wars saga for the first time since the once-reviled prequel trilogy to urgently tell Rey to battle and overcome the Emperor “like I did”.
Other lesser-known prequel Jedi also return to encourage Rey, specifically female Jedi Masters Luminara Unduli, Adi Gallia and Aayla Secura – though interestingly, they’re not played by their dialogue-free actors from the films, but rather popular Star Wars TV and videogame voice actors Olivia D’Abo, Angelique Perrin and Jennifer Half respectively, granting these actors a place in the film canon at last.
Aayla Secura, Adi Gallia and Luminara Unduli as they appeared in the Star Wars prequels (Lucasfilm)
Meanwhile, other Jedi who speak to Rey haven’t even appeared in the movies at all, silently or not. Listen carefully, and you’ll hear fan-favourite TV characters Kanan Jarus (played by Freddie Prinze Jr in animated series Star Wars Rebels) and Ahsoka Tano (played by Ashley Eckstein’s in both Rebels and The Clone Wars TV show) also offering sage advice.
Kanan Jarus and Ahsoka Tano as they appear in Star Wars: Rebels (Lucasfilm)
Sadly, we don’t get to see any of these heroes return visually as Force Ghosts bar Luke, which means we don’t have the full visual Jedi reunion some (including this website) might have hoped for.
But who would have thought that one day, we’d all be so keen to see the prequel stars in a Star Wars movie again anyway? In a way, this is the saga’s own victory.
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is in UK cinemas now