At CinemaCon recently, MTV caught up with Rian Johnson and asked him about several things Star Wars related, including his approach to upcoming Star Wars projects.
Firstly, he was asked about approaching J.J. Abrams’s Episode IX and how much he’s involved with it. “No, I’ve had a couple conversations with him,” Johnson said, “but I’ve actually really enjoyed kind of sitting back, waiting to get my popcorn opening day, and see how the thing turns out. I cannot wait.”
Next, he was asked what his reaction would be if J.J. Abrams were to decide to retcon things, like Rey’s parentage. Johnson didn’t seem to (at least outwardly) let on to any sort of disapproval, instead wanting Abrams to do whatever he feels is best. “Like I said, man, I want to let go of all my expectations, I want to sit back, I want to be entertained, I want to be surprised, I want to be thrilled, I want him to do stuff that I wasn’t expecting him to do, and just go along for the ride,” Johnson said. “For me, that’s why I go to the movies.”
And then later in the interview, Johnson was asked about the numerous projects either announced or rumored and what he’s most looking forward to as a fan. “I’m psyched about all of it,” he said, “but for me, I’m friends with Dan [Weiss] and David [Benioff], and for example to see two people like them just be given the reins to go out and show us what Star Wars is to them, you know what I mean? And I’m also psyched about the things that are going to explore beyond what we’ve seen already. To me, that’s kind of the most exciting stuff, is pushing the limits of seeing stuff we haven’t seen before in Star Wars. It’s exciting.”
In all of this, Johnson was very classy with his answers (like he always is – he’s a very likable person), and I thought it was interesting that his comments about how he’s going to approach Abrams’ film in many ways seems to describe how he hoped fans would approach The Last Jedi. When you hear Johnson talk about what he looks for in a movie, it fits so perfectly with what he did in TLJ. If Star Wars fans could just be open-minded enough to approach a film that way, I think Johnson would have taken a lot less crap from some of the more entitled segments of the fanbase. He explained that he wants to be surprised, his wants his expectations to be subverted, he wants to be entertained, and he wants Abrams to do things he wasn’t expecting – in fact, Johnson said that is why he goes to movies. I hope it’s obvious to you that those who approached TLJ in that way tend to have far different opinions about the film than those who went in expecting their demands and wishes to be met. And then when asked what he’s most looking forward to, Johnson explained that he’s excited to see Benioff and Weiss (he mentioned them because the interviewer specifically mentioned them) give their own take on the Star Wars saga and do things we haven’t seen. See, Johnson gave us his take on the Star Wars saga and did things we haven’t seen.
I can’t help but think that all of these comments are very insightful, because they’re precisely how fans would ideally approach a film – and since it’s how Johnson approaches films, it’s not a stretch to think that it’s how he wanted Star Wars fans to approach The Last Jedi. Many of those who can do that have found that it’s actually a very good film.
Johnson was also asked about his upcoming Star Wars trilogy, and he said, “No, we’re just working ahead on it, and they’re figuring out slate-wise how it’s all gonna lay out. They’re working that out, but I’m just chugging away on it, and I can’t wait to get back into it.” So yes, he’s still working on it (and it’s crazy that he keeps getting asked that), but Lucasfilm is figuring out what the release slate is going to be – because, remember, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are also going to be doing their own trilogy. I’m interested in finding out when these films will be released, and hopefully we’ll get such a schedule soon.