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Despite ‘The Last Jedi’ backlash, Rian Johnson loves ‘Star Wars’ more than ever

Rian Johnson has no regrets about 'The Last Jedi' and says it was "a completely joyful experience".

Image via Lucasfilm/Star Wars: The Last Jedi

It’s safe to say Disney, Lucasfilm and director Rian Johnson didn’t see the fan backlash against Star Wars: The Last Jedi coming. Prior to release, they assumed they had a winner on their hands. Rian Johnson was lined up for his own trilogy and they began a campaign to get an Oscar nomination for Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker.

Then the fans saw it and all hell broke loose. The Last Jedi was still a monster box office hit, but the intensity of the anger towards it saw Lucasfilm frantically backpedalling its plot and themes. This eventually resulted in the abysmal The Rise of Skywalker and even five years later, many fans are nursing a grudge against Johnson.

But, despite the ongoing backlash, Johnson still considers The Last Jedi one of the best experiences of his life. In a new interview with the New Yorker he reflects on his time in a galaxy far, far away and says he remains a massive fan:

“I think I love “Star Wars” even more now. I think what actually frustrates me is people’s perception that I had a negative experience somehow, or people’s perception that it was somehow a traumatic experience, or something. The reality is that it was a completely joyful experience even through the back end of it, the past few years, the reception of it.”

Director Rian Johnson The Last Jedi
Photo via StarWars.com

Johnson also reflected on the anger towards the movie, but doesn’t appear to have any regrets:

“When I read what those people were actually saying, I was, like, “Oh, I completely disagree with this.” They’re wrong. For me. Everybody can like whatever they want and not like what they want. And “Star Wars” fans, in particular—growing up as one, arguing about other people’s opinions being wrong is sort of the bread and butter of it all. I didn’t feel crushed. Like, “Oh, no, I didn’t make a real ‘Star Wars’ movie.” I felt, like, “No, I did.”

Fan reception to The Last Jedi has been gradually warming over the last few years, as most accept that it’s at least better than The Rise of Skywalker and that there’s a lot to love in it. Recent interviews have indicated that Johnson is still in regular contact with Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy over his long-in-development trilogy.

If that ever does happen we could still face quite a wait. Knives Out 3 is coming next from Johnson, though is still in the scripting stage and should shoot sometime in 2023 for a late 2024 release. That means that the earliest we’d hope for his return to Star Wars is 2027. However, that’d make it a neat decade since The Last Jedi, by which time Star Wars fans might be champing at the bit for more of his deconstructionist take on the franchise.

David James
About the author

David James

London-based writer about everything and anything. Willing to crawl over rusty nails to write about Metal Gear Solid or Resident Evil.