Oscar Isaac on why Star Wars: Episode VIII feels like an 'independent film'

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Apr 19, 2016, 5:13 PM EDT

A Star Wars film can be described as many things. But as an independent movie?

That's how star Oscar Isaac put it when asked recently about Star Wars: Episode VIII, in which he reprises the role of Resistance pilot Poe Dameron. The new chapter in the Star Wars saga is written and directed by Rian Johnson, whose three previous films -- including the sci-fi thriller Looper -- have all been relatively modest, quirky, character-driven affairs. Star Wars is Johnson's first real attempt at big-budget, visually spectacular filmmaking, but Isaac told the Los Angeles Times (via NME) that the director is still bringing his own unique approach:

"Rian is definitely going to places and investigating things that haven’t really been done in the Star Wars universe. For me, it’s so fun getting to explore different things that I wouldn’t have expected in this universe. In some ways it feels like we’re making an independent film. Certain things we get to play with –- this kind of intimacy that we get to find –- it's special. It’s been really fun."

Isaac knows a thing or two about indies himself: He's come up in the film world with acclaimed performances in a bunch of them, including Ex Machina, A Most Violent Year and Inside Llewyn Davis. All three of those focused on strong characters, a trait that is sort of inherent to indie film and has definitely been a major part of Johnson's previous work.

So when Isaac says Episode VIII feels like an indie, he probably doesn't mean that the movie will skip the epic battles and incredible visuals that are part and parcel of Star Wars and just about any sci-fi blockbuster. He likely means that the character development will be more out front, probably even more than in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The last time that happened in this franchise resulted in a movie called The Empire Strikes Back, and that one turned out pretty well, didn't it?

Meanwhile, you can see Oscar Isaac as the title villain next month in X-Men: Apocalypse, although we'll have to wait until December 2017 for the still-filming Star Wars: Episode VIII.

Do you think Rian Johnson will bring a quirkier, more character-driven sensibility to Episode VIII, and do you approve?