Rian Johnson Stands by ‘The Last Jedi’: ‘I Really Swung at the Ball’
Rian Johnson is speaking out on the Skywalker Saga — and standing by “The Last Jedi.”
The writer/director helmed “Star Wars: Episode VIII,” which infamously subverted fan expectations involving the entwined destinies of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), and of course, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). While the film grossed over $1.3 billion at the worldwide box office, the “Star Wars” fan backlash over how his entry allegedly deconstructed the canon was very, very real. But Johnson is looking at the 2017 franchise installment with new eyes, and “A New Hope” for the “Star Wars” canon.
“I’m even more proud of it five years on,” Johnson told Empire Magazine of his entry in the Skywalker Saga. “When I was up at bat, I really swung at the ball.”
He added, “I think it’s impossible for any of us to approach ‘Star Wars’ without thinking about it as a myth that we were raised with, and how that myth, that story, baked itself into us and affected us. The ultimate intent was not to strip away — the intent was to get to the basic, fundamental power of myth. And ultimately I hope the film is an affirmation of the power of the myth of ‘Star Wars’ in our lives.”
The “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” director is also proud of the movie’s ending, in which Luke Skywalker dies. “The final images of the movie, to me, are not deconstructing the myth of Luke Skywalker, they’re building it, and they’re him embracing it. They’re him absolutely defying the notion of, ‘Throw away the past,’ and embracing what actually matters about his myth and what’s going to inspire the next generation. So for me, the process of stripping away is always in the interest of getting to something essential that really matters.”
The next generation of the “Star Wars” franchise also has greatly changed since 2017. Producer Kathleen Kennedy reflected that it’s now “abundantly clear” that they cannot recast fan favorites from the original films, like pursuing the “Solo: A Star Wars Story” prequel about Han Solo.
“There should be moments along the way when you learn things,” Lucasfilm president Kennedy said earlier this year. “What’s unique about ‘Star Wars’ is that we’re one story, basically. George [Lucas] was always dealing with episodes. Ironically, he was serializing his storytelling.”
As the galaxy of “Star Wars” continues to expand through TV series on Disney+, upcoming films helmed by Patty Jenkins and Taika Waititi are additionally in the works to revamp the cinematic approach to the canon. Jenkins’ “Rogue Squadron” is still on the Disney calendar for release in December 2023, with Waititi’s expected to drop in 2025.
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