Director Rian Johnson on Creative Freedom in 'Star Wars: Episode VIII'
by Ethan Anderton
September 19, 2014
If you've been paying attention to the development of the revival of the Star Wars universe with a new trilogy and cohesive multimedia plans promising endless stories in a galaxy far, far away, then you already know Looper director Rian Johnson is on board to direct Star Wars: Episode VIII. Well, recently Johnson sat down on The Talkhouse podcast to chat with director Terry Gilliam, in promotion of the latter director's film The Zero Theorem (in limited theaters this weekend). But the discussion eventually turned to Johnson's experience with Lucasfilm so far, and the pressures and creative freedom on Star Wars.
On the podcast, Johnson was asked what it's like to take over something like Star Wars:
"I’m just starting into it but so far, honestly, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had writing. It’s just joyous. But also for me personally, I grew up not just watching those movies but playing with those toys, so as a little kid, the first movies I was making in my head were set in this world. A big part of it is that direct connection, almost like an automatic jacking back into childhood in a weird way. But I don’t know. Ask me again in a few years and we’ll be able to talk about that."
Then the discussion turned to responsibility in conjunction with creative freedom, and Johnson said:
“I’m figuring it out as I go. I’m kind of dancing on top of the avalanche a little bit. I’ll have more perspective on it in a while. It’s a balance of remembering what really inspires you about it, but I think you can probably go to the wrong place by feeling too responsible to it. You have to keep your head loose enough to tell a story you care about."
But how much room does he have to make a Star Wars movie his own? The director explained:
"It's a balance. That’s been the great thing. [Kathleen Kennedy] and her whole creative team have been just so insistent that all the filmmakers they’re hiring for these new movies, ‘We want you to take it and turn it into something that you really care about.’ We’ll see how the process plays out, but so far, that’s a big part of why I’m in it, because that seems to be their attitude towards it. It’s really exciting.”
It's good to hear that Lucasfilm isn't just hiring directors like Johnson along with Josh Trank and Gareth Edwards for Star Wars spin-off films outside of the new trilogy, and then stifling their creative freedom by making them stick to a plan. That sounds like a problem that Marvel is still working out since they couldn't jive with the vision Edgar Wright had for Ant-Man. After all, the original Star Wars trilogy films each had a different director, and those all turned out pretty well. And we all know how the prequels turned out from director and mastermind George Lucas. We can't wait to see what Johnson has in store.