Just as Empire Strikes Back broke course from A New Hope and took George Lucas’ budding new franchise into darker territory all those years ago, it seems that Star Wars: Episode VIII will uphold tradition by ushering in a tonal shift from J.J. Abrams’ lucrative crowd-pleaser, The Force Awakens.
At least, that’s according to Adam Driver, who is back on board as the erratic galactic menace in training, Kylo Ren. Left wounded and without a father when the credits rolled on last year’s mega-hit, Driver shed some light on the thinking process behind Episode VIII, and how that aforementioned tonal shift is in many ways brought about by the change of director, with Rian Johnson taking point in lieu of J.J. Abrams.
Rian is coming into something that we kind of set up and he just took it to the next level in a really great way. He wrote it, too, and Rian’s writing is so clear. I learned a lot of things about my character through his writing. Some things we talked about before and some things we didn’t. He was working on [the script] while we were still working on the first one. To understand what J.J. was doing and take ownership from there is kind of a remarkable thing. …
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.
Empire Strikes Back is the big point of reference in Adam Driver’s comments, which ought to pique the interest of fans given Irvin Kershner’s 1980 sequel is widely considered to be the best of the bunch. Can Episode VIII emulate that record, too?
Daisy Ridley once again headlines a stellar cast for Star Wars: Episode VIII that includes Mark Hamill, John Boyega, Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, along with newcomers Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern.
December 15, 2017 is the date for your diaries, while Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will expand the franchise in a new direction – slotting into the space between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope – on December 16, 2016.