Rian Johnson Explains Why He Took So Many Risks With Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Rian Johnson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s fruitful partnership has brought us some true cinematic gems over the years, whether it’s Brick or the equally mind-bending Looper, in which JGL plays a younger version of Bruce Willis.

So, it should come as no surprise that Johnson swung by JGL’s ten-episode podcast, Creative Processing, while promoting new whodunnit, Knives Out. It’s a truly star-studded affair, with big names like Daniel Craig, Chris Evans (Avengers: Endgame) and Halloween‘s Jamie Lee Curtis lining the cast sheet.

But when the conversation inevitably veered towards the Star Wars universe – and The Last Jedi, in particular – Rian Johnson reflected on some of the risks he took with Episode VIII, and why he believes TLJ pushed our favorite characters (see: Luke, Leia, Rey) toward places that were surprising, yes, but also “emotionally honest.”

I think the instant you start thinking in terms of how do you not step outside of the bounds of what the original movies did, you’re not thinking the way the people who made the original movies did. They were with every movie, they were pushing it forward, with every movie they were stepping outside those bounds and pushing the characters into new, emotionally honest, but surprising places. That’s why those movies are great. That’s why they’re alive. If they had been looking at something that came before it and saying, ‘Oh, we better not do this because that is outside of this or that,’ it would’ve been different.

Johnson’s callback to the Original Trilogy is a pertinent one: when the likes of A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back were lighting up cinema screens all over the globe, they were very much blazing a path of their own, unbeholden to the warped sense of fandom we see today.

It’s an attitude that Rian Johnson will no doubt carry over into his all-new Star Wars trilogy at Lucasfilm, which will presumably help expand that famous, far-away galaxy beyond December 2019 – the month in which the Skywalker Saga is set to conclude with the aptly-titled The Rise of Skywalker. Taking over directing duties from Johnson (and Colin Trevorrow, who bowed out of Episode IX due to creative differences), is J.J. Abrams. Look for that one to touch down on December 20th.

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