'Last Jedi' Filmmaker Survived the Pressure by Trusting His "Inner Fan"

Rian Johnson said that penning the movie was "the most fun I've ever had writing."
Courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd.
'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'

When Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson gives an interview about the process of making the next installment of the galaxy's favorite space opera, there's one obvious choice for the interviewer: Hamilton director Thomas Kail.

The unlikely combination spoke to each other in the latest episode of Lucasfilm's Star Wars Show web series, in a sequence shot at Skywalker Ranch in Marin, Calif. The show — embedded below — also features Lucasfilm Sound Foley artist Jana Vance talking about sound effects for 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Asked by Kail about whether he was overawed by the experience of working on such a large franchise, Johnson revealed that, beyond moments of utter glee, the answer was, surprisingly, no. "Once I actually jumped into it, it was the most fun I've ever had writing," he said. "It was the least scary process. I think part of it was, I wasn't alone for the process. I was writing on my own, but I moved up to San Francisco for a few months, and every few weeks I would go in and sit down with [Lucasfilm's] Kiri Hart and her whole story group team, and I would just put everything I was thinking of up on the white board and just bounce it off everyone — just see what everyone thought. Having that kind of gut check — not just for, 'Wait, don't do that,' but for, 'Yeah, you can do that. If that's interesting to you, take that path' — having that permission from somebody, I think that had a lot to do with it."

Johnson said that his longtime fandom for the franchise had ended up being the key that unlocked his ability to come up with The Last Jedi's storyline. "The first thing I kind of realized was, I have to trust, kind of, my inner fan," he explained. "If it resonates with me, I have to trust that. That's what George [Lucas] did with the original movies, you know?"

The two directors also talked about being starstruck around Star Wars legends, and where the movie is currently at in terms of postproduction. "ILM is working on the effects, so we're having effects reviews nearly every day and just sitting and looking at all this amazing new stuff ILM is delivering," Johnson said. "There's kind of this final rush of it all coming together, which is exhilarating."

The interview starts at the 2:30 mark below.

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