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Rian Johnson on Luke Skywalker, the new Star Wars trilogy, and Porgs

After so much waiting, it's a little surreal that STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI actually comes out this week, and, if the first reactions are to be believed, it sounds like Rian Johnson has put together one hell of a STAR WARS film. Lucasfilm obviously seems to believe so, or else they likely wouldn't have given Johnson free rein to craft an entirely new STAR WARS trilogy, which will be separate from the Skywalker saga and introduce "new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored." In an interview with the official Star Wars website, Johnson spoke a little about how the new STAR WARS trilogy came about.

I’m just at the beginning of the beginning of the beginning with it. It really just came about because we had such a great time making VIII, not just with the production, but Kathy, Ram [Bergman] my producer, and I, we all just got along so well. All the folks at Lucasfilm, we loved. Disney, we had a great time with Bob Iger and Alan Horn and Alan Bergman. We just really had a great experience with everybody. So we were getting to the end of this movie, and it really started with just, “How can we keep working together? It’s been a great experience. Beyond loving Star Wars, I just love these people, how can we keep this going?” So I just kind of floated out the idea of, “Well, we can talk about a stand-alone movie or something, but the thing that’s really the most interesting to me is the notion of a new trilogy and a new story told over three movies.” My pitch was basically, “Let’s give ourselves a clear, blue, open sky. Let’s say we can set this anywhere, and it’s not gonna be dealing with the characters that we’ve already established. Let’s create a whole new group of folks, a whole new set of circumstances, and let’s go to new places and let’s create a mythic, beautiful, emotional, fun Star Wars story over three films."

Out of all the potential STAR WARS projects in the works, the thought of a new trilogy untethered from the main saga where the sky is the limit is extremely appealing. Before that new trilogy comes about however, Lucasfilm still needs to complete the story of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), and we'll be learning much more about the Jedi Master in STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, which admittedly isn't saying much as his role in THE FORCE AWAKENS was frustratingly brief. With Rey (Daisy Ridley) taking center stage in the new trilogy, it will be through her eyes that we learn more about this older more grizzled version of Luke Skywalker.

Well, I can’t say too much because discovering that is part of the adventure of the movie and part of the journey in the movie. But, you know, so much of what his character was in this movie and what defined it was a combination of, like I said before, feeling like it was led down a certain path by the big choice he had made to be in exile. And then beyond that, Luke’s story in this movie, to a certain degree, serves Rey’s story. So that was the other element of this. Wherever he was going to be at and whatever he was going to go through, I couldn’t just think of it in a vacuum. This trilogy is not just Luke’s story. At the end of the day, it’s Rey who’s carrying us through this whole thing. Obviously, Rey and Finn, those are like the two big characters, but in this section of the story, meaning the island stuff, it’s Rey. So I had to think about him in tandem with Rey. And that was great, also, because that kind of meant thinking about him in tandem with myself, and as fans, our relationship to Luke as a legend and as this hero that we grew up with, who we now haven’t seen for some number of years and we’re approaching with expectations of what he’s going to be.

Bringing Luke Skywalker back to STAR WARS after over thirty years is quite the responsibility, but Rian Johnson worked closely with Mark Hamill in order to be sure they were on the same page. "It was a really intense working experience, just because during prep and during rehearsals we had a lot of conversations like this," Johnson said. "A lot of conversations about the character. And we collaborated and we argued and we did everything you can imagine. Through that, first of all, we formed a really good connection, and second, we both, by necessity, had to really understand where he was and where he was coming from." Johnson praised Hamill further, adding that the actor was wonderful to work with and that he still can't believe that Mark Hamill had the "graciousness and the trust" to put the direction of his character into Johnson's hands.

One of the more divisive elements of STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI are the Porgs, an adorable species of sea bird native to the planet Ahch-To, with some embracing them and others labeling them as the new trilogy's version of Ewoks. When Rian Johnson first wrote them into the script, he didn't quite know what he was about to unleash, but it started to dawn on him when they began filming and the Porgs were brought on set.

All the work on set stopped when we brought the porg puppets out. I could see crew members just like, adoring them, and then other crew members giving them the side-eye. [Laughs] And I was just like, “Okay, this is a little microcosm of what the fan reaction will be.” But I don’t know, though. They feel Star Wars to me, in their proper place. If the movie was porg-centric [Laughs], then we could have a conversation.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI will hit theaters on December 15th.

Source: Star Wars

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