Rian Johnson on Rey, Luke, and the Official Title for Star Wars: Episode VIII

Now that Rian Johnson's Star Wars: Episode VIII is in post-production, the writer/director has been just a touch more revealing about the middle chapter of the new trilogy. In fact, one of the things we've learned recently is that Johnson has long had a title for the film (in fact, he's had it since the very first draft of the script), but, of course, he's not telling. (Any guesses?)

What we do know for sure is that Episode VIII will pick up at the moment that JJ Abrams' The Force Awakens left off, a scene that was later revealed to have been directed by Johnson himself. 

In his first real interview about the film with USA Today, Johnson revealed that one expectation that fans have had for a while now might be upended—that tonally it will be in line with that other middle chapter Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back.

 “I want it to be a blast and to be funny and to be a ride the way The Force Awakens and the original Star Wars movies were," he told the paper. Now, the original Star Wars movies included Empire, so perhaps Johnson's just throwing us off the scent. His first film, the noir high school detective drama Brickproved that this is a director that definitely goes his own way, and one would imagine that Episode VIII will be a little more brooding than JJ Abrams whiz-bang (and very fun) first film.

What you probably already guessed is that one of the central relationships the film will explore is between Rey and Luke Skywalker. Johnson says for Rey, there's so much expectation for what Luke might be like, and what he might mean to her, that she, like the audience, might have those expectations challenged.

“Both not knowing what’s going to happen and also having a lot of expectations in her head about how this is going to go…it feels very much like what we all go through in adolescence, the dawning of this new chapter of our lives." 

Johnson said that Luke is going to be an emotional entry point to the film, and he took deepening Luke's story and finding out exactly why he ended up in exile and what he's been doing very seriously. 

There will be a lot of attention on the other main characters we met in The Force Awakens—mainly Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver.)

“I wanted to know more about each of them, and that doesn’t just mean information or backstory. Figure out what’s the most difficult thing each of them could be challenged with now — let’s throw that at them and dig into what really makes them tick by seeing how they handle that."

This interview was conducted before the tragic death of Carrie Fisher, and although its been reported that she had wrapped her scenes for the film, one wonders if there will be any addtional information added to the finished film to touch upon General Organa's fate. We can only assume that the former princess turned hardened, hugely influential resistance leader will be written out of the story with the dignity and grace she so richly deserves. 


Bryan Abrams

Bryan Abrams is the Editor-in-chief of The Credits. He's run the site since its launch in 2012. He lives in New York.