Rian Johnson Reveals Film Inspirations for ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII,’ Says He’s Not Giving in Too Much to Nostalgia


Carrie Fisher, John Boyega and Rian Johnson, director of Brick and Looper and of course the very anticipated Star Wars: Episode VIII, revealed tidbits — though really, tidbits (the movie still doesn’t even have an official title beyond Episode VIII) — about the upcoming film at the Star Wars Celebration conference in London, The Guardian and The Telegraph report.

On Johnson’s end of things, the director said that he hosted screenings for the cast and crew for on old war movies like Hideo Gosha’s Three Outlaw Samurai, Mikhail Kalatozov’s Letter Never Sent, George Stevens’ Gunga Din and Henry King 12 O’Clock High — so if you want to dive into any of those in a frantic attempt to predict what the next Stars Wars might be like, there you have it. However, despite the latest of those films being from 1964, the director made a mention of not wanting to get too caught up in nostalgia. (Presumably not for the old Star Wars films, either):

You come into it with feelings of deep nostalgia, but then you realise your responsibility, ultimately, is to get beyond that very quickly and ultimately tell a story that feels alive right now.

Perhaps this could be an indication of a divergence from J.J. Abrams’ wholly nostalgic style, or perhaps he’s just talking about not letting aesthetic weigh down a story’s momentum. He also mentioned that the film would begin exactly where the last ended — where Rey met up with Luke Skywalker on the Irish island of Skellig Michael (its non-Star Wars name).

Boyega and Fisher both made surprise appearances at the panel, and according to Variety, the actor who plays Finn in the films said of Johnson’s fresh take on the franchise, “He’s doing an indie movie within a studio franchise. And we’re having fun.”

Meanwhile, Fisher revealed that Han Solo’s funeral will be featured in the upcoming film — which really shouldn’t be a surprise, given that funerals… tend to follow deaths. This is likely an unfortunate fact for Fisher, who also spoke of how her favorite part of filming has always “been treating Harrison [Ford] badly.”

Of course, though Han Solo may now be gone in this Star Wars timeline and no longer able to provide scenes of endearing bickering with Leia, the character is getting expanded in a movie currently in development devoted to the character, who — as it was announced at the same conference — will be played by Hail, Caesar!‘s Alden Ehrenreich.