‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’ Director Rian Johnson Teases Details of Sequel

After a difficult month for “Star Wars” fans, “Star Wars: Episode VIII” director Rian Johnson is giving them a little break. In an interview with USA Today (conducted prior to the death of star Carrie Fisher), Johnson divulged some of the first details the public will hear about the next installment in the space epic.

“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,” Johnson said.

Some of this fun will include time investigating the motivations of the hero trio, Rey, Finn, and Poe, while also revealing more about the mysterious histories of these starring characters.

“I wanted to know more about each of them, and that doesn’t just mean information or backstory,” Johnson said. “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.”

The iconic Luke Skywalker, played by Mark Hamill, will also appear from the get-go and keep coming back onscreen for more. Johnson knows Luke is a fan favorite, so he’s “approaching it with a take that I hope feels honest and real and is going to be interesting to folks and make sense.”

Popular on Variety

In addition, Rey will apparently form a strong connection with Luke. She was last seen approaching Luke on his remote planet carrying his old lightsaber, “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.” Johnson added that she will have a bit of a coming-of-age arc.

“It very much feels like what we all go through in adolescence, the dawning of this new chapter of our lives,” he noted.

Much like the previous films, the concept of family will weave its way throughout the film. Especially for Rey, whose parental origin is currently unknown, this theme has been “a really powerful part of her setup and something I really wanted to dig into with this,” the director said.

Though Johnson did not reveal the title of the upcoming film, he said he’s had it in mind since he first started working on the film. “I’ll just blurt it out right now!” he joked. “All in good time.”

As the case often is with those working on the new “Star Wars” movies, Johnson grew up watching Skywalkers and Kenobis journey through a galaxy far, far away.

“It’s felt resonant and meaningful because it meant so much to me as a kid,” he said. “The creative work has felt like play.”

Star Wars: Episode VIII” will premiere Dec. 15, 2017.

More Film

  • Bhumi Pednekar

    IFFAM-Variety's Asian Stars: Up Next Program is Helping Talent Cross Over

    Eight young stars accepted the “Asian Stars: Up Next” award on Tuesday intended to recognize and promote Asian on-screen talent who have established themselves in their home market but have the potential to cross borders onto the global stage. The awards are issued by the International Film Festival & Awards Macao and Variety, and were [...]

  • Mo'Nique

    Mo'Nique to Play 'Badass Black Woman' in New Film 'Mother Trucker'

    Mo’Nique has signed on for the lead role in the independent action-adventure “Mother Trucker.” The movie is written by J. Oyer Tomas, former HBO executive producer, and set during the Congressional impeachment hearings to remove President Richard Nixon from office. Nixon resigned in 1974. Mo’Nique will portray a mother, struggling with anger management issues, who [...]

  • Bellbird review

    Macao Film Review: 'Bellbird'

    Mild, mellow and as life-affirming as a soft fall of springtime New Zealand rain, Hamish Bennett’s charming if overfamiliar debut feature “Bellbird” — so named after a species of avian indigenous to the region, which Captain Cook reportedly described as having a song “like small bells, exquisitely tuned” — is a fondly bittersweet tribute to [...]

  • Wisdom Tooth

    Macao Film Review: 'Wisdom Tooth'

    Slippery and surprising, full of odd details and insights, and leaching significant visual and thematic texture from its unusual setting, Liang Ming’s “Wisdom Tooth” must be one of the year’s most remarkable debuts. Set in a depressed Chinese fishing town close to the Korean border during the first snow flurries of winter, the film is [...]

  • Mattie Do

    'Long Walk' Director Mattie Do Has Fun With Asian Horror

    Laos’ first and only female filmmaker Mattie Do, whose thriller “The Long Walk” screened in the International Film Festival and Awards Macao’s world panorama section, tumbled into her profession with a dose of liquid courage. She’d recently moved to Laos from the U.S. to take care of her father, who’d moved back after her mother [...]

  • Klaus Storyboard Visuals Netflix

    Holiday Movie 'Klaus' Launches Netflix's Animated Feature Ambitions

    Filled with humor and emotion in equal parts, Netflix’s first animated feature, Sergio Pablos’ hand-drawn, feel-good family holiday movie “Klaus,” checks off all the right boxes. The “Despicable Me” creator included something for everyone in this clever Santa Claus origin tale wrapped in the idea that one simple act of kindness always sparks another. Oscar [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content