Rian Johnson Is ‘Even More Proud’ Of Star Wars: The Last Jedi Five Years On – Exclusive

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

by Ben Travis |

If there’s a line of dialogue in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi that feels particularly apt, it’s one spoken by Luke Skywalker: “This is not going to go the way you think.” Writer-director Rian Johnson’s middle chapter in the Sequel Trilogy was a rich, adventurous, mythical tale continuing the stories of Rey, Kylo Ren, Finn and Poe Dameron, that also dug deep into the soul of Luke Skywalker himself, decades after the triumphant finale of Return Of The Jedi. Along the way it contained all kinds of surprises, developing the threads of The Force Awakens in fresh and unexpected ways. It was another box office smash, pulling in over $1.3 billion worldwide – but it also challenged its audience in ways that some weren’t quite prepared for at the time.

In a major new Empire interview, Rian Johnson looks back on The Last Jedi for its fifth anniversary, reflecting with a few years’ distance on his episode in the Skywalker Saga. “I’m even more proud of it five years on,” he says. “When I was up at bat, I really swung at the ball.” The film, he says, is not just a Star Wars movie – it’s a movie about Star Wars, and what it means to fans (himself included). “I think it’s impossible for any of us to approach Star Wars without thinking about it as a myth that we were raised with, and how that myth, that story, baked itself into us and affected us,” Johnson explains. “The ultimate intent was not to strip away – the intent was to get to the basic, fundamental power of myth. And ultimately I hope the film is an affirmation of the power of the myth of Star Wars in our lives.”

That extends to its controversial depiction of Luke Skywalker as a hermit who’s closed himself off from the Force, having sensed darkness in his nephew Ben Solo and accidentally pushed him further towards the Dark Side as Kylo Ren. But as much as Luke begins the film in a very different place than we left him at the end of the Original Trilogy, his arc over the course of The Last Jedi – ending in his death, and the birth of a new Skywalker legend – sees him become a galactic symbol of hope and rebellion once more. “The final images of the movie, to me, are not deconstructing the myth of Luke Skywalker, they’re building it, and they’re him embracing it,” the director explains. “They’re him absolutely defying the notion of, ‘Throw away the past,’ and embracing what actually matters about his myth and what’s going to inspire the next generation. So for me, the process of stripping away is always in the interest of getting to something essential that really matters.” Something essential, that really matters? He could be describing The Last Jedi itself.

Empire – October 2022 cover

Read Empire’s full The Last Jedi five-year anniversary interview with Rian Johnson in the Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery issue – also featuring a world-exclusive look at Johnson’s new murder-mystery, and fresh photos from Johnson’s personal archive across his filmography, from The Last Jedi and Looper, to Brick and Breaking Bad. Find the issue on newsstands from Thursday 1 September, or pre-order a copy online here.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us