Rian Johnson Talks about Taking on Star Wars Episode VIII

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Anyone who has read ComingSoon.net over the years (or follows the filmmaker on Twitter) knows what a cool guy Looper writer/director Rian Johnson is, and his love for the great Terry Gilliam’s sci-fi classic Brazil made him the perfect candidate to talk with Gilliam about his new film The Zero Theorem (out today in select cities).

On The Talkhouse podcast, the two filmmakers had a conversation mostly to talk about The Zero Theorem, but eventually Gilliam turns things around and asks Johnson what he’s working on, which we all know is a little franchise movie, currently dubbed Star Wars Episode VIII.

When Gilliam learns what Johnson is doing, he asks what it feels like to take over something that was made famous by another filmmaker, to which Johnson responds:

“I’m just starting into it, but so far, honestly, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had writing. It’s just joyous. But also for me personally, I grew up not just watching those movies but playing with those toys, so as a little kid, the first movies I was making in my head were set in this world. A big part of it is that direct connection, almost like an automatic jacking back into childhood in a weird way. But I don’t know, ask me again in a few years and we’ll be able to talk about that.”

(To which Terry makes a joke about how Rian would have felt if he saw his first Star Wars movie on an iPad, making a reference to a discussion they have earlier in the podcast.)

“Do you feel a different kind of responsibility because it is Star Wars? Do you feel free?” Gilliam asks Johnson.

“I’m figuring it out as I go,” Johnson told him. “I’m kind of dancing on top of the avalanche a little bit. I’ll have more perspective on it in a while. It’s a balance of remembering what really inspires you about it, but I think you can probably go to the wrong place by feeling too responsible to it. You have to keep your head loose enough to tell a story you care about.”

Gilliam found it interesting for Johnson to take on something like “Star Wars” and try to make it his own.

“It’s a balance,” Johnson explains. “That’s been the great thing. Kathy (Kennedy) and her whole creative team have been just so insistent that all the filmmakers they’re hiring for these new movies, ‘We want you to take it and turn it into something that you really care about.’ We’ll see how the process plays out, but so far, that’s a big part of why I’m in it, because that seems to be their attitude towards it. It’s really exciting.”

Terry Gilliam suggests that if they bring Yoda back, they also bring Frank Oz back and Gilliam tells a story about how he spoke to George Lucas at Cannes about why the puppet Yoda was so much better than the digital one from the prequels.

You can hear the first part of this great conversation over on The Talkhouse blog.

(Photo Credit: WENN.com)