Rian Johnson is not one to rest on his laurels.
Coming out of The Last Jedi and its billion-dollar success story, the director would be forgiven for wanting to take a breather from blockbuster filmmaking and all of its many demands. But Johnson had other plans, and so too did Lucasfilm.
The result? A totally new Star Wars trilogy replete with original characters that will presumably exist in its own little corner of that galaxy far, far away – and therefore remain independent from the other trilogy in the works from David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the current showrunners behind HBO’s Game of Thrones.
It’s still early days, of course, but already, the director’s beginning to tease the approach he’s taking, telling IGN in a recent interview that he’s attempting to hone in on what Star Wars really is.
“We’re just at the very beginning of figuring out what this new thing is going to be,” Johnson explained, “but part of the excitement of it is really trying to hone in on ‘what is Star Wars?’ What was Star Wars for me the very first time I saw it when I was a little kid? What are the combination of elements that just made me want to jump into the screen, and made me want to go home and instantly start telling my own stories?”
Continuing on, he said that the exciting thing is the freedom he has here, being able to tell stories set in this universe that don’t involve the Falcon or someone with “Skywalker as their last name.”
“Once you get past the things that are the iconography of Star Wars – once you say, okay, if it doesn’t have the Falcon; if it doesn’t have someone with Skywalker as their last name; if we don’t go to Tatooine, what is it? What is it at its essence? It’s a really exciting question, and I think it’s something that has to be answered at some point. So let’s figure it out.”
Mark Hamill chimed in on Johnson’s new trilogy as well, saying that he’s looking forward to seeing these new films have their own identity.
“I think the potential for all the new incarnations is they can have their own identity,” said the actor. “You can have Rogue One be that gritty war movie, and Han Solo he’s a rogue, and a womanizer, and a gambler – there’s a much more comedic feel to [his film]. That’s what I’m hoping – especially since they’re standalone films, they don’t have to follow the structure of a three-act play, they can be as diverse as possible within the Star Wars universe.”
Finally, he noted that the challenging part will be still keeping those elements that make Star Wars what it is, while also having things feel fresh.
“That’s the challenge,” he acknowledged. “You want to have all the elements that identify them as Star Wars films, with the action and the special effects and the characters and the humor – I hope they don’t lose the humor, although Rogue One was obviously pretty serious. But have the things that people want in a Star Wars film, but then push the envelope as best you can and make as many different kinds of movies as you can.”
Regardless of your feelings on The Last Jedi, you have to admit that Johnson is definitely the right person for the job of moving Star Wars into fresh terrain. In contrast to J.J. Abrams’ loving homage to the traditions of the franchise in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi frequently defied expectations and had a lot to say about the dangers of blind nostalgia and not letting go of the past.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves just yet. Our next trip to that galaxy far, far away will be Solo: A Star Wars Story, which hits cinemas on May 25th.