It was only a year ago Star Wars fans were impatiently counting down the days until Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and now Lucasfilm is well on its way to completing Rian Johnson's Star Wars: Episode VIII. Though there's still plenty of work left to be done (Lupita Nyong'o has to film her Maz Kanata scenes), things have been moving along smoothly ever since principal photography began earlier this year. Johnson wrapped the first stage of production back in July and is now hard at work assembling his first cut in the editing bay.
There was always going to be much excitement about an eighth entry in the Skywalker family saga, but the anticipation increased tenfold following the premiere of Episode VII. Getting the new era of Star Wars on film off to a thrilling start and ending on the cliffhanger of Rey's first encounter with Luke Skywalker, fans are anxious to see the story continue. Members of the cast have long been singing the praises of Johnson, and now Adam Driver is paying more respects to his director.
While at the Toronto Film Festival, the one and only Kylo Ren talked with Collider, and it shouldn't come as any surprise that Star Wars was a major part of the conversation. Saying that he "learned a lot of things about my character through his [Johnson's] writing," Driver discussed what he liked most about the sequel's screenplay:
"It’s great. It’s similar to how The Empire Strikes Back has a different tone. For that people always go 'oooh, it’s dark' but I don’t know that it necessarily is. It’s just different in tone in a way that I think is great and necessary but also very clear. He trusts [that] his audience is ready for nuance and ambiguity. He’s not dumbing anything down for someone and that’s really fun to play."
Many involved with Episode VIII, including John Boyega and Oscar Isaac, have mentioned in the past how Johnson's film will tonally be different from its predecessor. From the sound of it, Star Wars 8 is going to stray into darker territory, which isn't a shock considering Johnson's previous filmography (including the sci-fi crime/thriller Looper and Breaking Bad's gut-wrenching "Ozymandias" episode). Driver's statement indicates that the movie will still maintain a sense of humor (much like Empire Strikes Back), but mix things up to keep the audience on their toes.
The use of terms "nuance" and "ambiguity" are also welcomed to hear. For all the positives of The Force Awakens, many noticed the obvious parallels between it and A New Hope (a decision J.J. Abrams said was intentional). The hope is now that the franchise has been reestablished with what was essentially a "soft reboot," the future films won't have to play as closely to the original trilogy in terms of story and structure. Isaac claimed this would be the case, revealing Episode VIII will "explore different things" that haven't been seen before. Set photos of the filming locations and descriptions of possible action sequences certainly reaffirm these quotes, so ideally there's truth to their claims.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story's premiere and the arrival of Star Wars Rebels season three are events worth celebrating, but for many, Star Wars 8 remains the project they're most looking forward too. So many questions remain after Force Awakens, and there is no shortage of ways Johnson can take the narrative. With all the talent involved, Episode VIII should be another worthwhile installment in the franchise, perhaps one of the best yet.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.