J.J. Abrams has just finished shooting Star Wars: Episode IX, one of the most anticipated films of the year, and that means he's finally talking about the experience of making the film ... at least a little bit.
Abrams stepped out with wife Katie McGrath to attend the 14th Annual Oscar Wilde Awards — hosted by his production company, Bad Robot — and Entertainment Tonight was able to get a few words from him about Episode IX. Abrams was his usual mystery box-wielding self when it came to details, refusing to give any hints as to the film's still-unannounced title and dodging anything concrete about what's in the film, but he did describe wrapping the movie as "pretty emotional" and emphasized over and over again that he can't wait to finally show it to fans.
Then E.T.'s Ash Crossan brought up The Last Jedi, writer/director Rian Johnson's eighth installment in the main Star Wars saga, which Episode IX will directly follow. The Last Jedi was a critical and commercial success for the Star Wars saga, but to say it had its detractors would be something of an understatement. The film prompted a tremendous negative response from certain corners of fandom, from racist and sexist attacks on its stars to campaigns to have it rendered non-canonical, to a campaign to raise funds to completely "remake" it. Those extremes aside, even fans who liked elements of The Last Jedi were sometimes thrown by some of Johnson's more daring choices. It's a film that challenged various concepts of Star Wars storytelling to a degree we hadn't seen before, and that's going to make it a tough act to follow in any number of ways.
When asked how he processed that reaction in making Episode IX, Abrams offered only this:
“I think every movie is its own movie," he said. "Obviously this is a trilogy. We brought to that movie all the passion and hard work we would have no matter what. I think the story speaks for itself. I really, truly can’t wait for you to see it.”
We've come to expect rather limited answers from Abrams at this point in the promotional game, and given how opinionated people still are about Johnson's film, this definitely won't be the last time he has to respond to a question like this, so we'll likely hear more later, though.
Abrams did also take a moment to gush a little about working with Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian on the film, something fans have been waiting for ever since the movie that would become The Force Awakens was announced.
“I met him once before, and he was such a sweet guy. I gotta tell you, I have such unbelievable respect for him. We had a great time, and he was wonderful … He just had this aura around him. He’s really just an incredible man and an incredible actor.”
Star Wars: Episode IX arrives in theaters Dec. 20. Hopefully we'll at least have an official title to work with very soon.