On the cusp of the impending release of the biggest film of his career so far, ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ director Rian Johnson sat down with the folks at StarWars.com to chat about the highlights of making the film. It’s a lengthy interview, but below we’ve included three key takeaways from the conversation.
First up, Johnson speaks a big on his personal feelings as the American premiere of the film looms large:
“Well, it’s interesting, in this specific period right now, the lead up to the release. Especially seeing Disney turn up the heat on marketing. Those guys are the best in the world at what they do. … It’s really realizing the breadth of how many people are going to see this, how deeply those people care about it. I feel super proud of the movie and everything that I wanted it to be, I feel like it is. Whether the whole world sees it because it’s a Star Wars movie or a few people see it because it’s a small movie, that’s always just the best that you can do — is make something you’re proud of.
Though there are a plethora of characters in this film – both of the “new school” and “classic” Star Wars variety, much of the marketing so far has revolved around the relationship not only between the Light and Dark sides of the Force, but also between the newer characters shown wielding the power, Kylo Ren and Rey. Johnson spoke at length about the connection between the two:
“With each of them, there were things that I really responded to in The Force Awakens. Both individually as characters, and also in their interaction in the interrogation scene that they have in The Force Awakens. I thought the dynamic between them was very interesting and the opposing forces, flint striking off each other with the two of them, combined with this power on opposite sides that they both share, was very interesting.
“It’s not just a big, open study of their characters. It’s a narrative, so another big part of it was figuring out how we feel about each of them coming out of Force Awakens and into this film. Again, it’s not a big canvas. It’s a line that’s going forward and you’re following a path step by step. You know, we hate Kylo’s guts coming into this. [Laughs] He’s interesting because the villain is always interesting, but also because, I think, you can see his flaws and his vulnerabilities. He gets his ass kicked. He has his butt handed to him, absolutely, by someone who should not have been able to hand him his butt. [Laughs] So he’s in a very different place than Vader, but I think we hate him maybe even more than we hate Vader coming into this.”
Lastly, the Disney marketing/product sections are obviously “all in” with the inclusion of the newest members of the “cute Star Wars” universe, the pudgy bird-like Porgs. Johnson has a particularly entertaining back-and-forth with the interviewer on this fascinating subject:
Rian Johnson: “The slow realization that the porgs were gonna have an impact one way or the other, and probably both ways at once [Laughs], kind of started dawning on me on set — when we brought them on set and I could see the crew members. All the work on set stopped when we brought the porg puppets out. I could see crew members just like, adoring them, and then other crew members giving them the side-eye. [Laughs] And I was just like, ‘Okay, this is a little microcosm of what the fan reaction will be.’ But I don’t know, though. They feel Star Wars to me, in their proper place. If the movie was porg-centric [Laughs], then we could have a conversation.”
StarWars.com: “Well, that’s why we have stand-alone movies.”
Rian Johnson: “Exactly! Precisely! That’s what I was saying to Kathy [Kennedy]. I don’t know, man. It feels Star Wars to me. I hope people will like them in the actual movie.”
Directed by Rian Johnson, ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Billie Lourd, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Benicio Del Toro, Andy Serkis, Laura Dern, Lupita Nyong’o, Warwick Davis, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, and Jimmy Vee.
‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ opens in US theaters on December 15, 2017.