The Spotlight: 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' director Rian Johnson addresses the film's humor, its ending, Snoke, Rey's parents and more
(image via StarWars.com)
***This should probably go without saying but there are massive Last Jedi spoilers below.***
After years of intense secrecy, Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson can finally talk about his baby. Reviews are mostly positive (cough cough) but the film has raised a bunch of questions with fans. Making the rounds opening weekend, Johnson addressed a lot of these items in interviews with multiple outlets.
And away we go...
Other than actual plot execution, Johnson's use of humor might be the most divisive issue among fans. It seemed grating to some, but Johnson obviously felt otherwise. Speaking with Simon Mayo, the director believes humor has always played a role in the universe.
"I think humor's always been a big part of Star Wars and especially with this one where I knew we were going to go to some more intense places," Johnson says. "We were going to slow down a bit and take our time with some of the storylines. I wanted ... It was really important for me to get that aspect of fun and humor into it."
The identity of Rey's parentage was likely the most anticipated reveal going into Last Jedi. Some felt the answer was a letdown copout while others found it a perfectly acceptable way to broaden beyond the Skywalker story. Johnson says he's empowered Rey in denying her the famous heritage most had hoped for.
For me it was a dramatic choice. It was just that her hearing - and also for the audience hearing that... if the answer had been, that's presented in this movie at least, in this context. If the answer presented to her was, 'Your parents are so-and-so, here you go, here's your place in this story.' That would be the easiest thing for her to hear. And easiest thing for us to hear! Wish fulfillment. It's like, 'Oh, great! That's who I am. That's that.' The hardest thing she could hear is, 'No, you're not going to get that answer, that definition.' In fact, the fact that you don't have that is going to be used against you by Kylo, to try and make you lean on him. You're going to have to find the strength to define yourself and stand on your own two feet.
Moving on to Snoke, Johnson was a bit more glib on his brutal ending. Speaking with EW, Johnson described Snoke as more of a device to connect Rey and Kylo Ren. Snoke also served his purpose in the mentor/mentee dynamic we saw between Palpatine and Vader in the original trilogy. Making the point that fans didn't need much backstory on The Emperor to appreciate the character, Johnson didn't feel the need to go there with Snoke.
“I do think it’s interesting,” Johnson said. “I never want to poo-poo the fans coming up with theories. It’s part of the fun of being a Star Wars fan. If there is a place for it in another story, I hope it gets told.”
Telling it himself in The Last Jedi would have felt like he was shoehorning information on the audience that would have become a distraction. “It would have stopped any of these scenes dead cold if he had stopped and given a 30-second speech about how he’s Darth Plagueis,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t matter to Rey. If he had done that, Rey would have blinked and said, ‘Who?’ And the scene would have gone on.”
Regarding the film's ending, Johnson says he didn't make the call to kill off Luke Skywalker lightly. The director moved to San Francisco for months to make sure he his writing process was collaborative with execs, chiefly Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy.
“I had huge hesitance,” Johnson says of ending one of the most beloved characters in movie history. “I was terrified. It was a growing sense of dread when I realized this was going to make sense in that chapter.”
Welp, there you have it. Did you love Last Jedi? Hate it? Let us know in the comments.
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Well THAT was one crazy weekend. Sending love from team Space Bear to every single one of our fellow SW fans, and everyone who went on the journey with us this weekend. Love you guys.— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) December 18, 2017
Thank you for watching and for seemingly watching everything.— SAFDIE (@JOSH_BENNY) December 16, 2017
SHOUT-OUT to @rianjohnson for no particular reason other than being my friend, collaborator & guru. You quelled my fears, listened to my endless stream of terrible ideas & occasionally used a few here & there.— @HamillHimself (@HamillHimself) December 17, 2017
#GenialGenius #ThanksFromAGr8fulPadawan pic.twitter.com/Hohw60i9jW
Get that money.
Weinstein wanted @AshleyJudd for GWH. I don’t doubt it- she is wonderful. I don’t name Weinstein, but I should have in 2016 when I was on @Andy ‘s show. I said he didn’t want me cause I wasn’t ‘hot enough’. His exact words were “You’re just not fuckable.” https://t.co/PKw7vz8MtO— Minnie Driver (@driverminnie) December 17, 2017
Thanks for smarm-spaining it to me @tedcruz I know politics can be confusing, but you'd have more credibility if you spelled my name correctly. I mean IT'S RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU! Maybe you're just distracted from watching porn at the office again❤️-mh https://t.co/nHpJVG1Wpe— @HamillHimself (@HamillHimself) December 17, 2017