Rolling Stone has a great new piece on J.J. Abrams and his next little project, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. I highly encourage you all to check out the full piece, because I’m only tapping into his comments on The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson, and how that movie ultimately affected The Rise of Skywalker.
One of the more interesting exchanges came when the interviewer ask J.J. about all of the unexpected moments Rian had crafted for TLJ. In particular, they brought up Snoke’s death. Apparently, that moment was so unexpected it made J.J. laugh when he read the script.
When I read his first draft, it made me laugh, because I saw that was his take and his voice. I got to watch cuts of the movie as he was working on it, as an audience member. And I appreciated the choices he made as a filmmaker that would probably be very different from the choices that I would have made. Just as he would have made different choices if he had made Episode VII.J.J. Abrams – Rolling Stone
That’s a fun exchange, but it reflects what he’s said in the past when people push him on Rian’s film. In the end, they’re both artists, so they will not always see these films in the same light, but they respect each other’s work, and appreciate each other’s different views.
The interview continued with the Rian discussion, and J.J. mentioned that the most shocking thing Rian did was to make Luke so dark, which clearly also divided fans. Abrams didn’t come out and say he hated this take on Luke though, rather he took the chance to praise Rian and his bold choices, which he found to be the most fun aspect of TLJ.
I felt the biggest surprise was how dark Luke was. That was the thing that I thought: “Oh, that was unexpected.” And that’s the thing The Last Jedi undeniably succeeds at, which is constant subversion of expectation. The number of things that happened in that movie that aren’t the thing you think is going to happen is pretty fun.J.J. Abrams – Rolling Stone
Finally, J.J. gets asked if Rian’s ideas screwed his overall vision for this trilogy, and he explained, that even with some of the major things Rian did, none of them fundamentally altered where he thought the main narrative would go.
I had a real sense with [Force Awakens co-screenwriter] Larry Kasdan about where things would go, potentially. And I think that, when I read Rian’s script, what I felt was that with everything that happens in that movie, and quite a lot does, nothing sort of obviated a sense of inevitability where I thought the story could go.J.J. Abrams – Rolling Stone
If you parse out his words, especially the “sort of”, you could make a case that he did had to change a few items here and there, but nothing to the point of scrapping core plot ideas.
J.J. was also asked about George’s criticism of the film.
I’ve only had gratitude for George. It’s probably a complicated thing for him. To decide you’re going to sell this thing that you created, that was your baby, to anyone — that must be more complicated than signing a check and smiling about it. But he’s been incredibly gracious. He’s been super-generous.
He came over, we had a meeting when we first started working on this [new movie], talked through a ton of different ideas and stories, and heard from him what was important. And we’ve done nothing but try and adhere to some fundamental aspects of the story. It wasn’t a difficult thing to try and do. And again, he was really gracious. So I’m only grateful. Do I wish that [Force Awakens] had been his favorite movie of all time? Yes, I only wanted to do well by him. I would just say that I have nothing but profound respect for the guy and am still truly, even more so now, working on these movies in awe of what he created.J.J. Abrams – Rolling Stone
And one final nugget, he gives a cheeky reply on Rey’s ability to learn the Force faster than the Skywalker boys.
Yeah, spooky, right? [Smiles] It’s a fair point. It’s not an accident.J.J. Abrams – Rolling Stone
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20th.
Featured Image Credit: Jonathan Olley