While Rey was always an important character in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, her lineage was originally planned to be very different.
In a recent interview with Josh Gad, actress Daisy Ridley revealed that the character had been planned during development to be related to Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Knight and mentor to both Anakin and Luke Skywalker.
Ridley went on to say the plans for her connection to the existing Star Wars universe kept changing even as the films were filming. At one point, it was even possible that she would have no connection to any characters from the previous films, as was alluded to in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Ultimately, it was revealed in last year’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker that Rey was the granddaughter of Sith Lord Emperor Palpatine. When writer and director J.J. Abrams told Ridley of Rey’s connection, she said that it was “awesome,” though it seems the decision had yet to be finalized at that time.
Recently, the franchise came under fire from actor John Boyega, who accused Disney of downplaying characters of color in the trilogy, while giving white characters like Rey more significant arcs.