Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Rian Johnson Talks About Making 'The Last Jedi'

By: Dominic Jones

While all the Star Wars projects going on around him seem to have experience varying degrees of high turmoil, the fact that Rian Johnson's work on Star Wars: The Last Jedi seems to be running smoothly becomes all the more impressive.  With that in mind, the writer/director sat down with David Itzkoff of The New York Times recently to discuss his experience working on the upcoming film.

Johnson revealed that he was initially hesitant about taking on Star Wars, having turned down other franchise work before.  Johnson said, 

"After 'Looper' I had been approached with other franchise stuff and gotten used to saying no. And I knew this would mean so much to me — the worst thing I can imagine is having a bad experience making a 'Star Wars' movie."

He also spoke about his collaboration with The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams, saying,
"If I had questions — what did you think this was going to be? What were your ideas for this? — I could always ask him. But those questions only address what these characters want and how they get there.

Take the question of who Rey’s parents are: If you get the information — oh, it’s that! — who really cares? I know a lot of people care, but it’s interesting as opposed to impactful. Now, what is my place in the world? Where do I come from? Where do I belong? O.K., I understand what the weight of that is. We could play with those questions and their answers to have the biggest emotional impact on these characters."

One of the big questions coming into this movie is what is Luke Skywalker like now, for Johnson this was one of the first issues he needed to address when writing the film.  He told the New York Times,
"That was the first thing I had to figure out. Why is Luke on that island? And I didn’t have any answers. But it’s not like you can just pick anything you want out of the air. I grew up having a sense of who Luke Skywalker is. It guides you to a very specific path. I know he’s not hiding on the island. I know he’s not a coward. He must be there for a reason that he believes in. You’re finding a path forward, but there end up being fewer choices than you think."

Johnson also spoke about how the passing of Carrie Fisher last year impacted him and the film, saying,

"When she passed away, we were pretty deep into postproduction. When we came back to the edit room after New Year’s, it was so hard. We went through all her scenes. I felt very strongly that we don’t try to change her performance. We don’t adjust what happens to her in this movie. Emotionally, you can’t help recontextualize it, now that she’s gone. It’s almost eerie how there are scenes that have an emotional resonance and a meaning, especially now. She gives a beautiful and complete performance in this film."

He also addressed his relationship with Colin Trevorrow who, until recently, was set to direct Episode IX (the interview was conducted prior to the announcement that Trevorrow was leaving the project).  Johnson, who is now rumored to be a frontrunner to take over Episode IX, said,

"It’s been very similar to J. J. and I. I’ve given it some trajectory forward, and now I get to see where another storyteller is going to take it. I’ve been available, and he’s shot me questions. But I’m pretty much sitting back and seeing how it’s all going to come together for him."

Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi hits theaters on December 15th.  The film is written and directed by Rian Johnson and stars Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Benicio Del Toro, and Lupita Nyong'o. 

Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.


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