Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Rian Johnson Interview

The Director And The Jedi

The Director And The Jedi

So, it's been a few months now since The Last Jedi was released and, now that the hype has died down a bit, how are you feeling about the movie and the reception it received?

Phew! [Laughs] I feel so good. It's been a real emotional ride for the past few months. It's been so cool seeing people dig into the movie, seeing people really absorb it and talk about it in such depth online. I don't know, it's been really wonderful seeing the fans start to take the movie in, pull it apart and figure it out. It's been really, really cool.

Looking back, is there anything you wish you'd done differently?

You know, any movie you make you're like 'ah I could've done this, I wish I'd done that!' and this is the same as any other. But all the big decisions in it, I feel pretty proud of the film and I'm excited to see - because one thing with a Star Wars movie is it has a long shelf life - I feel very proud of this movie thinking about it in the context of the long haul. Thinking about 20 years from now, how will this movie look in the big picture of Star Wars movies, I'm excited to see that happen.

Yeah, and it's difficult to fully judge the new ones against the old, because obviously they have sat with us fans for so long and that's one of the reasons people love them so much.

Of course. It's interesting to go back and look at - and I know it was going around a bit - the fan reactions to The Empire Strikes Back, and remembering that the stuff that's kind of lionised in our heads now, when it was first released it was just like when anything is first released, people are going to have different reactions to it. It's interesting.

And now the Blu-ray is coming out soon here in the U.K., it's just about to be released over in the U.S. too, and is packed with special features.

Yeah we jammed it man, we jammed it.

Is there any one thing on there you're really excited for fans to see?

I need to check whether the score-only version is going to be released over here, but I can talk about the documentary, which is a feature-length doc that I think is very special. It's not just a very typical promotional video with talking heads and B-roll, we had a real documentary filmmaker on set, Anthony Wonke, he was on set every single day, and we were all mic'd up every day. The amount of access he had, and the depth with which he's able to go into the process, I'm very excited for fans to be able to see that. We really wanted to lift the curtain up on how a movie of this size actually feels to be working on.

Of course, you did that a bit yourself with a lot of behind-the-scenes photos.

I tried to, yeah. I know when I was growing up and wanting to make movies, anything like that I could get my hands on, that felt like it was genuinely showing you - I remember there was a behind-the-scenes thing about Raiders of the Lost Ark that was on TV when I was a kid, that went into things like the truck chase, and that feeling of 'oh wow, this thing that was magical to me was made by a group of people who did this and that' really meant a lot.

And you mentioned there the score-only version, which we're not sure if it's going to be available over here* so I don't want to spend too long on it, but I just want to ask how that came about? Because it's a pretty unique idea.

It's pretty special. It actually came about when we were on the mixing stage, mixing the film, and every time we were about to mix a scene Ren Klyce, our sound designer, would watch it through once with just the music up, to see what the music was doing so we knew what was there. And it was always so extraordinary to see the way John [Williams] was writing every tiny, emotional beat in obviously the big action scenes, but especially the quieter dialogue scenes. It's really amazing watching it with just the score and getting an appreciation for how he is playing the emotional beats and also you hear 'oh he's doing this theme here!' and 'oh, you would expect this but he's hitting this theme right here' and it's fascinating to get to watch.

And it's a very layered score as well, he mixes a lot of those old motifs with the new stuff.

Exactly, yeah. Precisely. It's very Wagnerian what he does.

On that note, could we also have a Porg-only version?

A Porg-only version?! Hahaha. I don't know man. Somebody can do that edit, just stick Porgs over everybody. [Laughs]

*Unfortunately the score-only version won't be on the U.K. version.

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NCTJ-qualified journalist. Most definitely not a racing driver. Drink too much tea; eat too much peanut butter; watch too much TV. Sadly only the latter paying off so far. A mix of wise-old man in a young man's body with a child-like wonder about him and a great otherworldly sensibility.