Rian Johnson

Rian Johnson tells Terry Gilliam what it's like to work on Star Wars

Contributed by
Sep 18, 2014

Writer and director Rian Johnson opened up a bit recently about working on Star Wars Episode VIII to, of all people, Terry Gilliam.

Johnson (whose previous films include Brick and the outstanding Looper) and the legendary Gilliam were both guests on a podcast called TalkHouse (listen below) when the subject of Johnson writing and directing Episode VIII (he's also writing the script for Episode IX) came up. Gilliam was unaware that Johnson had landed the gig -- his first reaction was "Wow." 

The iconoclastic filmmaker behind movies like Brazil and the new Zero Theorem is, frankly, the last guy you could ever see taking the wheel for an installment or two of a giant corporate franchise, and we say that as a compliment. But he seemed honestly curious to hear all about it, asking Johnson, "What does it feel like when you take over someone else’s world?"

Johnson, who grew up watching the original Star Wars films -- not to mention playing with the toys -- replied:

"I’m just starting into it, but so far it’s been nothing but -- honestly, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had writing. It’s just joyous...The first movies I was making in my head were part of this world, so part of it is a direct connection -- it’s almost like an automatic jacking-in into childhood in a weird way."

Gilliam then asked Johnson if George Lucas was "looking over his shoulder," but after being reminded that Lucas was no longer directly involved with the franchise, Gilliam rephrased his question to inquire how much creative freedom Johnson had. His reply:

"I’m figuring it out as I go...(Lucasfilm head) Kathleen and her whole creative team have been so insistent on all the filmmakers they’ve been hiring for these new movies: ‘We want you to take it and turn it into something that you really care about.’ And we’ll see how the process plays out, but so far, that’s a big part of the reason I’m (doing the film). Because that just seems like their attitude towards it. It’s really exciting actually.”

The idea that Disney and Lucasfilm would entrust their crown jewel to young and exciting filmmakers like Johnson, Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) and Josh Trank (Chronicle) -- the latter two are directing two of the spinoff films -- gives me a lot of hope about the future of the Star Wars franchise. All those guys grew up with and love the mythology, yet are not afraid to try new things -- which hopefully Disney will let them do.

As for Terry Gilliam, his experiences working for studios in the past have been contentious, to say the least, so he might be understandably suspicious. But if Lucasfilm is being so creatively free with its filmmakers -- maybe there's a Star Wars movie in his future after all?

(via The Playlist


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