Director Rian Johnson and producer Ram Bergman recently sat down to talk about the movie as part of Ireland Week on culture, art and commerce at L.A.’s Regal Theaters through Oct. 21. A significant portion of The Last Jedi was shot at Ireland’s UNESCO world heritage site Skellig Michael, which fans remember from the final frames of The Force Awakens, Luke’s emerald tower hideaway high above a roiling sea.
“That very last image of The Force Awakens with Rey holding the light saber out to Luke, that was so evocative. In every other case Star Wars movies jumped forward in leaps of time. I knew I was supposed to do that but the last image was intriguing. I knew I wanted to know were we were going next,” Johnson told the audience about the Dec. 15 release.
Johnson said the best Star Wars movies tread a fine line between bubblegum and opera, but had little to say about The Last Jedi, noting only that his favorite ship is the A-wing, of which the new film will have plenty.
After the discussion, he sat down for an interview with The Hollywood Reporter to talk fan speculation about that new poster, how the film will re-contextualize other Star Wars movies, and walking up 600 steps just to get to work.
The Jedi village set looks like a monastery. Did you design with the island’s existing 6th century monastery in mind?
It’s a direct translation of it. Those domes, that beehive kind of design of the huts is exactly what’s on Skellig. And we moved the geography of them around a little bit to what we needed. But the design was taken straight from Skellig. We wanted to fit in with what was on the islands.
The domed roofs of the village suggest the desert home Luke was raised in back on Tatooine?
It’s incredible, the connection with them. There is virtually no design happening on our part. It’s coincidental. It’s funny how things rhyme.
You had no second thoughts when you were scouting Skellig Michael and then took a look at those 600 stairs up the mountainside?
It had been built up so much before we got there, saying, “You have to be careful on the steps. Take breaks. This is going to be so hard.” The first time I climbed the steps, I got to the top and I thought we were at the halfway point. I guess it had been built up to me so much it actually wasn’t as bad as I thought.
Wouldn’t green screen have been easier and more economical?
I’m sure it would have been more economical, but it was so worth it to do it the way we did it. We got a feel, we got a vibe, we got a grounded kind of look that we never could have gotten on the green screen. I guess I should add that I was just trolloping up the stairs without a pack on my back. All of our great Irish crew, who acted as sherpas carting our equipment up the stairs, it was much more difficult for them. I don’t want to be cavalier about the stairs.
What do you think of the speculation surrounding the latest poster and has Luke gone over to the dark side?
Having been a Star Wars fan myself for the past 40 years, having spent most of my life on the other side of the curtain, I know the anticipation and the guesswork and theorizing is all part of the fun and game of it. So I love it. I love seeing what people are thinking, seeing what they’re guessing, seeing what they’re anticipating.
Part of it is re-contextualizing past movies. How does yours do that?
Each new film hopefully re-contextualizes what came before it. That’s part of the game. Yes, it’s a continuation of not only The Force Awakens but also of the legacy leading up to it.
And of course the third movie will be referencing your movie. Have there been any discussions?
J.J. Abrams is doing a third movie. I’m not involved in it. They’ll be writing their own story but continuing on with what we did.
But imagine: Johnathon and Nancy staring, dumbfounded, after Steve as he takes their siblings and their friends, wondering when their younger brothers became cooler than them.
“W-what just happened?” Nancy watched as Steve slung an arm around Mike’s shoulders, the younger boy jabbering in his ear about some movie or other that Steve had, apparently, taken him to without Nancy’s knowledge.
“I think Steve just stole your brother,” Jonathan said while he waited for Will to arrive. He leaned against the hood of his car and tried not to look as amused as he felt.
“He took Mike to a movie?” She asked as if Jonathan hadn’t spoken. Her jaw was unhinged and Jonathan would have laughed if he didn’t know how proficient she was with a gun. “I asked him if he wanted to go bowling. He said he had plans last night.”
Jonathan shrugged. “Seeing a movie with Mike sounds like a plan.”
“Mike is not his girlfriend!”
True. “But he is your brother. Maybe Steve just wanted to get to know him better.” People did that right? It sounded like something someone nice would do.
Nancy tossed him a look, arms standing akimbo. “Oh yeah?” She tilted her head to the now expanded group. “Then why is Will there?”
“What?” Jonathan whipped around and sure enough, Will had joined the group. He stood between Dustin and Lucas as they all yammered about how much fun they had last night and how cool the movie was. Max had settled herself against Steve’s side, looking inordinately pleased with herself.
Nancy grinned. “Looks like he stole your brother, too.”
I forgot to mention this other mediocre horror movie I saw which by total coincidence is also on right now, The Faculty. The title and school setting made it seem boring as fuck, like “oh no, evil teachers, how original”, but it’s actually about teenagers fighting parasitic alien fish by snorting designer drugs and it ended up being a lot more amusing than I originally thought. It stars Elijah Wood.
In the 2006 film Aquamarine, there is a moment where one of the characters says that love is “the closest thing we have to magic”. It makes me think of Harry Potter when I watch it; and I smile because that quote is so true. Love is magic.
a straight person reviewing a gay movie: This was gay….. in a similar way that this other Gay movie [insert title here] was Gay. it reminded me of that movie so i’m going to compare the two movies in my review, because they were both gay
The actor for Viktor Krum was in a movie called Hostel Part 2, where he was eaten by a cannibal; and every time I see Goblet of Fire, I get creeped out by Viktor because I always picture him in that movie!
Hunk won because he’s the best boy, Lance and Keith started a partnership and they’re doing shows, movies and other stuff together (like sharing a family), Varkon got the popularity title and Lotor got hate on Twitter for bashing Hunk. :D