Rey, star of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is — to quote Winston Churchill — "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma". Fans are particularly curious to know her origin; who is the mysterious father she's been waiting on Jakku for? Unsurprisingly, Daisy Ridley has been fielding questions about this since the film first aired. We imagine being asked the same questions by strangers every day for a year would take its toll — there's only so long you can keep the secrets to yourself, and Daisy has finally cracked!
What Did She Say?
Although the quest for Luke Skywalker was such an integral part of The Force Awakens, the reality is that the film was about the passing of the torch. Rey is the 'Luke Skywalker' of her generation: a desert orphan who stumbles into a Galaxy of trouble, and winds up dealing with a ruthless Empire (the First Order being the Empire in all but name). Given she's certain to have a central role in the films going forward, fans had wondered whether or not Lucasfilm would choose to reveal the secret of her heritage in Episode VIII — or whether they'd instead save the revelation for Episode IX!
Now Ridley has answered that question, at least. Asked whether Rey was Obi-Wan's daughter (for probably the 80,000th time), she replied:
“We will see in a year. Just sit tight on that question.”
It makes sense. Structurally, The Force Awakens was clearly a love-letter to the very first Star Wars film, A New Hope. The sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, revealed that Luke Skywalker was in fact the son of Darth Vader — a moment that blew viewers' minds, and transformed the Star Wars saga into a dynastic tragedy. It makes perfect thematic sense for Rey's father to be revealed in Episode VIII, continuing the deliberate pattern of homage that's running through this trilogy.
Who Could The Father Be?
The most popular fan theory is that Rey's a Skywalker, explaining the ease with which she taps into the Force. As a descendant of the Chosen One, so the argument goes, Rey is a Force-powerhouse who is destined to continue the Skywalker legacy; bringing balance to the Force (whatever that may mean). Supporting this argument, Rey is the right kind of age, and she clearly trained as a Jedi under Luke. What's more, one painting from an artist involved in The Force Awakens carried the caption 'Rey Skywalker'. Against this, though, J. J. Abrams told the Tribeca Film Festival that Rey's parents aren't in Star Wars: The Force Awakens at all. It's possible that small glimpse of Luke at the end of the film doesn't count, though.
If Luke is Rey's father, who is her mother? In the original Expanded Universe, Luke married the former Emperor's Hand, Mara Jade. Although other characters from that phase of the EU are gradually returning to the Star Wars canon (Grand Admiral Thrawn, here's looking at you), we haven't had any evidence yet that Mara's going to make her presence felt. Fans are curiously wondering if the mother could instead be Felicity Jones's Jyn Erso, soon to make her debut in Rogue One.
The second most popular fan theory is that she's descended from Obi-Wan Kenobi. The colorscheme of Rey's costume seems to be a deliberate visual nod to Kenobi's, and when Rey picks up Luke's lightsaber in The Force Awakens she hears Obi-Wan Kenobi — not Luke or Vader. What's more, thematically that final battle between Rey and Kylo Ren would become far more mythic if it were a rematch between a Kenobi and a Skywalker.
Naturally, there's far too significant a time-jump between The Force Awakens and Kenobi's death in A New Hope for Obi-Wan to be Rey's father. However, Jedi aren't forbidden to have sex, just forbidden to develop attachment, so it's not beyond the realms of possibility that Obi-Wan had a lover between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope — and that Kenobi is, in fact, her grandfather.
This Definitely Matters
One thing to bear in mind is that, in Star Wars, the question of parentage really matters. After all, this franchise centers on the Skywalker lineage, and one of the most-loved moments in the Original Trilogy was the iconic scene where Vader told Luke a dark secret, shaking his son to the core.
There's absolutely no way that Rey's parentage has been kept so secret by accident. Even the canon novels haven't given us any further hints, suggesting that Marvel and Random House have been told this topic is off the table. The novel Before the Awakening gave us a glimpse inside Rey's mind, but barely touched upon her mysterious lineage in the plot.
If Lucasfilm didn't think it mattered before The Force Awakens was released, they soon learned otherwise. The Internet flooded with fan-theories, with fans locked in excited debate. Everyone from J. J. Abrams to Daisy Ridley has been bombarded with questions about who Rey's parents are, so if this wasn't intended to be a big deal, Lucasfilm will have quickly changed plans. Just the fact we're discussing a year before Episode VIII airs suggests just how important this plot truly is.
Daisy Ridley's comments don't give us a clue about who Rey's parents may be, but they at least tell us that — in a year's time — we'll finally have the answer to one of the most tantalizing Star Wars questions of all. I can hardly wait!