Star Wars: Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow requested The Last Jedi helmsman Rian Johnson to shoot a small part for his film while the latter was in production on Episode VIII. Though there are still six months remaining until Star Wars 8, plenty of attention has been paid to the sequel trilogy finale in recent weeks. Lucasfilm officially scheduled the movie for May 2019 and intend on commencing principal photography in January 2018. Like J.J. Abrams and Johnson before him, Trevorrow understands the magnitude of his task (possibly ending the saga), but the reaction to his indie The Book of Henry has some fans questioning if he should still direct Episode IX. The Jurassic World helmer remains in place for Star Wars 9, and that seems unlikely to change.
Trevorrow was hired for this job in 2015 and has spent the better part of two years developing the story. While he's going to be able to implement his own ideas, Trevorrow still had to work within the confines of the Lucasfilm system, working with a brain trust that includes Abrams, Johnson, and Lawrence Kasdan. With so many creative minds coming together, the three directors all had to be able to play ball with the studio and be flexible if they so had to. One such instance was Trevorrow asking Johnson for a favor during filming on The Last Jedi.
In an interview with MTV's Happy Sad Confused podcast, Trevorrow revealed he wanted Johnson to shoot "one extra thing" for Episode IX. Obviously, he couldn't reveal too many details about it, and instead focused more on the way Lucasfilm conducts business when offering his response:
"There was one little thing. It wasn’t an adjustment, it was just 'Could you shoot this one extra thing while you’re in this place on this day?' And he did, which was great. But, y’know, it’s part of the collaborative process that exists – everyone is in communication. There’s such a genuine want to get this right from everybody, and I think that one of the misconceptions is that there’s some kind of great corporate overlord that is dictating this story to everybody, and that’s what it’s going to be because that’s going to sell the most toys. The reality of it is that it’s a small group of people, but it’s actually, y’know, kind of large when you think about it – and none of them are corporate, all of them are creatives and all of them are genuinely, very sincerely, wanting to do the work of their lives in order to realize this."
This situation is somewhat similar to Johnson asking Abrams to have R2-D2 - not BB-8 - accompany Rey and Chewbacca to find Luke Skywalker on Ahch-To so the exiled Jedi could have an emotional reunion with his old astromech companion. It's nice to see the Star Wars directors willing to make these slight alterations to their movies so the three installments tell a singular, cohesive narrative. The spinoffs have a little more leeway since those are being conceived as standalones, but the saga films will forever be intertwined. It was pertinent for Abrams, Johnson, and Trevorrow to all be on the same page, and it sounds like they were keenly aware of what was happening behind-the-scenes. That should be encouraging for fans, since it shows everyone is fully committed.
As for what Johnson shot, the specifics of that won't be revealed for a while. Lucasfilm is still keeping the lid shut on a majority of Last Jedi details, so surely anything about Episode IX is buried deep in the vault. The vagueness of Trevorrow's comments give the impression what he's talking about could be interpreted as a spoiler, and he knows better than to just volunteer information that's off limits. One day, fans may learn all the particulars, but for now it's just another part of the great Star Wars mystery.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019