In the cover story interview with EW, J.J. Abrams, he breaks down the meaning behind the characters names and hints about the character’s role in the story.
Rey and Finn – The few things we know here are the former is a scavenger make a living on the desert island of Jakku who meets Finn, who is an ex-stormtrooper. Then in the course of their adventure, they met the old geezers Han Solo and Chewbacca.
Abrams is very cagey about these two saying, “I will only say about that that it is completely intentional that their last names aren’t public record.”
Poe Dameron – He is the new Wedge Antilles, and one of the three new heroes who will debut in this movie. His name is derived from the director’s assistant, Morgan Dameron. Whereas the name Poe is based on Abrams daughter’s toy polar bear.
This name is supposedly just a temporary placeholder but it became permanent later.
BB-8 – This cute spherical droid is based on original designs by Ralph McQuarrie’s for old trilogy. It will make its first appearance on planet Jakku.
Its name was so catchy from the start that the director don’t see any need to change it, “I named him BB-8 because it was almost onomatopoeia. It was sort of how he looked to me, with the 8, obviously, and then the 2 B’s.”
General Hux – Played by Domhall Gleeson, this is the most mysterious character of the movie since so little is known about his role. He is a young General in the service of the First Order, remnants of old Imperial Empire. It’s currently unknown how did he get the rank in view of his age or what is he planning to do with the military strength of the First Order. There is even rumours that his goal is to prevent both sides from attaining a superweapon.
His name is came out of nowhere; according to Abrams while he is having conversation with Lawrence “Larry” Kasdan, the screenwriter for Empire Strikes and Return of the Jedi, “Larry and I would walk all over the place when we were breaking the story, and we would record our conversations. We were walking through a cemetery that’s near the Bad Robot offices, and we would often, as we were talking about characters, sort of just be glancing at names to see if any of them stuck. I don’t believe that Hux came from there, but it may have.”
Captain Phasma – Played by Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones), is a skillful and ruthless combat veteran in service of the First Order. In the movie, she is relentlessly hunting down the deserter Finn.
Her name came from horror movie Phantasm and the director chose it because he felt “Phasma sounds really cool.” There is a possibility that Abrams is paying tribute to Angus Scrimm who plays the Tall Man in Phantasm movie series since the actor also worked with Abrams prior to this in several episodes of Alias.
Kylo Ren – The black clad lightsaber user who has an important role to play in the movie, his name is actually acquired as opposed to being his birth name; hence fans are excited to speculate that he could be related to Han or Luke.
His last name “Ren” is actually a clan name that set to play a new role in Star Wars universe. The clan is called the Knights of Ren and they seem to have some connection to the Sith, wielding lightsabers with Force sensitivities. But nothing else is known about the clan at the moment.
The three way lightsaber is also built by himself according to Abrams.
And thankfully, the director confirms that there are no midi-chlorians in the movie during an interview with MTV few days ago.
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