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Rian Johnson talks about the creative freedom he had on The Last Jedi

With STAR WARS EPISODE IX losing director Colin Trevorrow – and the HAN SOLO movie losing directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller – people are assuming Lucasfilm has a bit of a “director problem.” The idea is that the studio has a clear roadmap for where the movies need to go, and clearly these directors don’t wanna play ball. But for Rian Johnson that wasn’t the case on STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, and in an interview with Empire, the director talks about the level of freedom he had to create the next chapter in the saga.

The interview is part of a larger spread that will come out in October, and in this segment, Johnson talks about how Lucasfilm didn’t give him a list of beats to hit or a line he had to stay on. All they wanted from him was a continuation of what J.J. Abrams started in FORCE AWAKENS. Still a lot of pressure:

The perception of these films is that they’re all planned out on a secret sheet of paper in advance, but that’s just not the case. I wasn’t given an outline of where it goes or even a list of things to hit. It really was just, "Okay, what’s next?"

In fact, the process of creating so much was quite daunting, and Johnson wasn’t sure if he was ready to deliver the goods at first:

I was terrified coming into this that I was gonna be like Barton Fink and have a script that was due six months ago and I'm still on page three writing about fishmongers. But it’s the most fun I’ve ever had writing something. The whole experience was incredible: just tapping into my ten-year-old self. Even though it’s Star Wars, the whole thing has felt bizarrely similar to my experience making LOOPER or BRICK or THE BROTHERS BLOOM.

As evidence, Johnson was able to create entirely new worlds in JEDI, and Empire released a new photo featuring Finn (John Boyega) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) on the fancy planet, Canto Bight. Johnson said his desire to create the planet came out of wanting to do something “completely different” from other STAR WARS movies. "I wanted a new environment that was like dunking your head in a cool bath of water, right in the middle of the movie,” Johnson said.

STAR WARS is a brand, and Lucasfilm wants to protect that brand and make sure it stays successful. That means making sure their movies meet certain standards. However, I believe they know the key to their movie’s success is letting filmmakers have room to do their job.  It’s one thing if the movie being made isn’t what the studio wanted (as was supposedly the case with HAN SOLO), or if the director and studio can’t get on the same page (Trevorrow), but as long as the two are simpatico, the  studio will give the filmmaker all the room they need to get the job done. I’m glad Johnson had that freedom, because he’s an incredibly inventive filmmaker, and it would be a shame to make him simply point the camera and shoot. To see how he brings his gift to the STAR WARS universe is one reason I'm so pumped to see it, and hopefully what he did will be pure magic. I mean, he probably would've been replaced if it wasn't.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI arrives December 15.

Source: Empire

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