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SYFY WIRE Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi

Rian Johnson 'more proud' of 'The Last Jedi' five years after release of polarizing 'Star Wars' film

"See you 'round, kid..."

By Josh Weiss
Rian Johnson

Five years after causing a disturbance in parts of the Star Wars fandom with The Last Jedi, writer-director Rian Johnson is "even more proud" of his work on Episode VIII.

"When I was up at bat, I really swung at the ball," the filmmaker explained during an interview with Empire for the magazine's latest issue (now on sale). "I love it as a Star Wars movie," he continued. "My intention from the start was to put everything I love about Star Wars into it. And, in a very meaningful way, try and dig into what Star Wars means to me, what Star Wars meant when I was a kid, what Star Wars means now, through the whole journey I had that I think a lot of us our age had."

While many viewers praised Johnson's bold vision of the galaxy far, far away, others took umbrage with his treatment of Luke Skywalker (even Mark Hamill added his own dissenting voice to the conversation), as well as the mysteries set up by The Force Awakens (mainly the identity of Supreme Leader Snoke and an explanation for Rey's Force sensitivity) two years prior.

"The ultimate intent was not to strip away — the intent was to get to the basic, fundamental power of myth," he added. "And ultimately, I hope the film is an affirmation of the power of the myth of Star Wars in our lives. The final images of the movie, to me, are not deconstructing the myth of Luke Skywalker, they're building it, and they're him embracing it. They're him absolutely defying the notion of, 'Throw away the past,' and embracing what actually matters about his myth and what's going to inspire the next generation. So for me, the process of stripping away is always in the interest of getting to something essentially that really matters."

In terms of making Rey a nobody (something that would eventually be retconned in The Rise of Skywalker two years later), Johnson disagreed with the argument that the anticlimactic reveal represents the very opposite of fan service. "To me, actual fan service is serving the characters in the most deeply affecting way possible," he said, later adding: "To me, the deeper and more interesting, and ultimately more meaningful pleasure, is to have story choices that serve the characters in ways that maybe you didn't expect, but that ultimately make things hard on them, and thus make their eventual victory more satisfying."

And what of the director's plans for a brand-new galactic trilogy beyond the Skywalker Saga? Johnson currently has his hands full in the detective genre, but would never rule out a chance to once again put his unique stamp on Star Wars. "I've stayed close to Kathy [Kennedy] and we get together often and talk about it," he revealed. "It's just at this point a matter of schedule and when it can happen. It would break my heart if I were finished, if I couldn't get back in that sandbox at some point."

Johnson's next film, Glass Onion (a sequel to his subversive and critically-acclaimed whodunit, Knives Out) debuts on Netflix late this year. He's also working on a murder mystery series — Poker Face — at Peacock, which will feature the talents of Natasha Lyonne, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ron Perlman, Tim Blake Nelson, and more.

Looking for more dark sci-fi space adventures? SYFY's acclaimed Battlestar Galactica adaptation is streaming now on Peacock. Looking ahead, SYFY has the new space thriller The Ark coming next season.