Details of Colin Trevorrow’s “Star Wars: Episode IX” have leaked online—the intended version of the ‘Star Wars’ film that was scrapped before J.J Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker” took over. Yes, this comprehensive script breakdown comes from a Reddit leak— the devoted group of r/StarWarsLeaks Subreddit— and nine out of ten times, Reddit is something you should avoid, and not print. But here’s the thing, this script leak, which actually comes from the filmmaker, DVD producer, and YouTuber Robert Meyer Burnett, and is broken down on Reddit, is real. How do I know? I’ve been working on and chasing down this very story for a few weeks and have been speaking to sources near that project.
It started with a Making Star Wars report about Rey’s parents in early December—Leia’s servant was Rey’s mother in this version of the script, and the site erroneously attributed these plot details to Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly’s screenplay. Trevorrow almost immediately debunked the report on Twitter. And then, we began digging and reaching out to insiders to suss out what was what.
Yikes, that’s rough. Normally I’d say nothing, but not a single thing in here was ever in any screenplay Derek and I wrote. Not one thing. All the best to you guys.
— Colin Trevorrow (@colintrevorrow) December 5, 2019
Sources close to the project told The Playlist details. Turns out the particulars of Making Star Wars’ report—which they have subsequently also corrected—was actually from Jack Thorne’s version of the ‘Episode IX’ script (the writer of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child“). Not so coincidentally, Thorne was hired to rewrite ‘Episode IX’ in August of 2017, and one month later, Trevorrow exited the project.
So, now, to the Reddit leak. The short version: they match the details of what insiders close to the projects told about the Trevorrow’s Episode IX screenplay a month ago. A second and third source has just now confirmed to us the script details are indeed real, including the confirmation of the title “Star Wars: Duel Of The Fates.”
While I cannot say in earnest that I was told every beat of what’s on Reddit at the time, the crux of the story is exactly the same. The First Order has cut off all communication between planets to suppress a rising rebellion inspired by Luke Skywalker’s stand at the Battle of Crait. In the crawl, the audience is told the Resistance’s mission is to re-open communication and call the galaxy to war. Another critical element of “Duel Of The Fates”? Palpatine is mentioned, but actually isn’t in it at all and indeed not resurrected like he is in ‘Rise Of Skywalker.’
One of the main beats of the story told to us was given agency and a full arc to Finn and Rose Tico, the latter totally sidelined in “Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker.” Finn’s story, in particular, came full circle in his original arc of a Stormtrooper who finds his moral compass, cannot fulfill his duties and defects to the side of the Resistance as seen in ‘The Force Awakens.’ In ‘Duel Of The Fates,’ Rose and Finn went on a side mission to enemy-occupied Coruscant to light and activate an ancient beacon in the old Jedi Temple to call the galaxy to war.
Finn’s arc is further sparked before this. In the opening sequence of the movie, which is very men-on-a-mission, the Resistance—Finn, Rose, and BB8— steals a Star Destroyer full of old Imperial weapons and vehicles, and during this heist, Finn sees a fallen Stormtrooper without his helmet on, and recognizes him. This crucial story beat was meant to re-ignite his internal conflict when it comes to killing his former brothers and sisters in arms (side note, Burnett in his YouTube video says I’d been more or less told as well. “I hope Kelly Marie Tran never reads this script ever. Because Rose Tico is front and center throughout this whole movie and her character is great as written.”)
From there, all the details match. Finn and Rose are captured, sent to a POW camp, Rose is interrogated by Hux. Eventually, when Finn escapes prison, he has connected with other dubious Stormtroopers, and recruits his own defecting Stormtrooper army to fight back, and this becomes his new army. It becomes a kind of citizen’s uprising.
The final ground battle was led by Finn and the reformed Stormtroopers on the streets of Coruscant, attacking the First Order Ship that hovers over the city. The Resistance joins in with stolen fighters and vehicles painted with their own revolutionary colors. There is a simultaneous air battle, led by General Poe Dameron.
The last beat of the film connected to “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” with Finn and Rose taking all the Force-sensitive youth to a remote planet so Rey can train the next generation of Jedi. The Broom Boy, from Rian Johnson’s film, is among the children here. If anyone felt Rose, and to a lesser degree, Finn were shortchanged in the movie, ‘Duel Of The Fates,’ certainly gave them as much to do as any significant character.
Anyhow, yes, it’s legit. Here’s the opening “Duel Of Fate” crawl from Reddit, which, yes, is also real.
The iron grip of the FIRST ORDER has spread to the farthest reaches of the galaxy. Only a few scattered planets remain unoccupied. Traitorous acts are punishable by death. Determined to suffocate a growing unrest, Supreme Leader KYLO REN has silenced all communication between neighboring systems. Led by GENERAL LEIA ORGANA, the Resistance has planned a secret mission to prevent their annihilation and forge a path to freedom…
Rey’s story? She’s off with Poe on another mission (and has a double-bladed lightsaber that sounds like something like Darth Maul’s weapon) believing there is still good in Kylo Ren, (naturally) and both of them seemingly trying to end the Jedi and Sith—picking up where the ‘Last Jedi’ left off. Part of Kylo’s story is finding a Sith Holocron that leads him to a Sith Lord (he fights Darth Vader, but it’s one of those spooky force dreams that’s real, but not real). Ultimately, it’s revealed that Kylo Ren killed Rey’s parents, and she’s not at all related to Palpatine. The Force Ghosts of Luke, Obi-Wan, and Yoda all assist Rey in her final battle against Ren. The Jedi all try to bring Ben back to the light, but Ben is “extinguished,” and the attempt is unsuccessful.
Honestly, reading the beat for beat Reddit post about “Duel Of The Fates” is a bit convoluted and confusing, but it’s correct. Lucasfilm won’t be commenting and Trevorrow won’t either, but I suspect if you met him one on one in an interview and asked, he’d be hard-pressed to deny it, or at least would have to give you no comment (for now).
What happened to the stories in the trades about a version of Trevorrow’s script where Leia confronts and battles Kylo? (“She thought IX would be her movie. And it would have been,” Kathleen Kennedy said in May 2017) Well, it’s not clear from this script breakdown, which is purportedly from a week before Carrie Fisher’s death(December 27, 2016), but Leia doesn’t appear to be “front and center” in this version. So, I believe, though could be wrong, that info is incorrect, and this script is a version that was written after Fisher passed away. Trevorrow and Connolly did have to rewrite their text of “Duel Of The Fates” after she died.
Update: The date of the script is correct, and delivered one week before Fisher’s death.