Rian Johnson says he trusted his "inner fan" to avoid the pressures of writing and directing Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Less than three months away from its release in theaters, The Last Jedi is perhaps the most anticipated of the Star Wars films yet, especially after the $2 billion global blockbuster reception to The Force Awakens — a film that was lauded by fans and critics at first, only to be picked apart later over its similarities to the first film in the classic trilogy in 1977.
Among the legions of Star Wars fans is Johnson, the acclaimed Looper filmmaker who is saddled with the unenviable task of telling perhaps the most crucial chapter of the film saga yet by unraveling the mystery over the disappearance of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who by all accounts is no longer the optimistic young Jedi who redeemed his fallen father Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader at the conclusion of Return of the Jedi.
In an interview with Hamilton director Thomas Kail in a segment for The Star Wars Show (via THR), Johnson says he was immediately comfortable when he started sketching out the plot for The Last Jedi. He says:
"Once I actually jumped into it, it was the most fun I've ever had writing. It was the least scary process. I think part of it was, I wasn't alone for the process. I was writing on my own, but I moved up to San Francisco for a few months, and every few weeks I would go in and sit down with Kiri Hart and her whole story group team, and I would just put everything I was thinking of up on the white board and just bounce it off everyone. Just see what everyone thought. Having that kind of gut check — not just for, wait, don't do that, but for, yeah, you can do that, if that's interesting to you, take that path — having that permission from somebody, I think that had a lot to do with it."
But before seeking that permission during the writing phase of The Last Jedi, it appears Johnson had already earned permission from himself to relax and trust his feelings on the project — a level of trust that he had simply by being a longtime fan of the Star Wars universe. He says:
"The first thing I kind of realized was, I have to trust, kind of, my inner fan. If it resonates with me, I have to trust that. That's what George [Lucas] did with the original movies, you know?"
So far, fans seem to be trusting their feelings for Johnson, who has divulged little information — at least in the visual sense — about the film to date with only one teaser trailer at Star Wars Celebration and a behind-the-scenes reel at Disney's D23 Expo. True, there have been extensive reports on The Last Jedi and the characters' motivations from extensive cover stories released by Vanity Fair and EW, yet all parties involved seem to be carefully choosing their words so as not to reveal too much of the plot.
To that end, Johnson has been the ultimate fan by building the same sort of burning anticipation that he felt himself, long before the stories from "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away" laid out the path that led him to helm The Last Jedi. If you don't believe Johnson cares that much about how fans feel about his vision, then take one look at his amazing commitment to meet one-on-one with every single person waiting for The Last Jedi panel at Star Wars Celebration in April. When Star Wars fans say Rian Johnson is one of us, they really mean it.
Source: The Star Wars Show (via THR)
- 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: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019