Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is Joey’s most anticipated movie of 2016, and while I think it looks solid, I’m far more interested in seeing how writer/director Rian Johnson continues the events of The Force Awakens in Star Wars: Episode VIII.
We’ve heard from Oscar Isaac that the three heroes (Finn, Rey, and Poe) are all “tested immensely” in the new film, John Boyega described the film as “darker and bigger” than TFA, and now Adam Driver — who plays the tempestuous villain Kylo Ren — is sounding off with some of his thoughts.
Collider asked the up-and-coming actor what it was like working with Johnson on this movie, and Driver’s answer makes me want to see the movie more than ever:
Rian is coming into something that we kind of set up and he just took it to the next level in a really great way. He wrote it, too, and Rian’s writing is so clear. I learned a lot of things about my character through his writing. Some things we talked about before and some things we didn’t. He was working on [the script] while we were still working on the first one. To understand what J.J. was doing and take ownership from there is kind of a remarkable thing. And he’s the most polite, unassuming guy and he was appropriately territorial about some things but would still be the first to admit when something’s not working. A lot of times you need to rise to understand what the script is, and perhaps I’m beginning to be unclear, but he’s a great person to work with.
Driver also compared the script for Episode VIII to The Empire Strikes Back, which I know will make a lot of fans happy:
[The script for Episode VIII is] great. It’s similar to how The Empire Strikes Back has a different tone. For that people always go “oooh, it’s dark,” but I don’t know that it necessarily is. It’s just different in tone in a way that I think is great and necessary but also very clear. He trusts [that] his audience is ready for nuance and ambiguity. He’s not dumbing anything down for someone and that’s really fun to play.
When I rewatched the original trilogy last year before seeing The Force Awakens, I decided that A New Hope was the best of those first three movies because it tells a complete story and doesn’t have that cliffhanger ending. (Empire is an undoubtedly great entry, but not necessarily the best singular storytelling experience; you can’t watch that on its own the same way you can with A New Hope.) So as long as Episode VIII doesn’t end on another cliffhanger (especially after the way The Force Awakens concluded), I think the idea of changing the tone sounds great to me. I’m excited about seeing that nuance and ambiguity play out with these characters, and even if Johnson isn’t able to tell a perfectly contained story with this movie, I’m still very excited to see how he picks up the baton from J.J. Abrams and pushes the universe forward in his own way.
Star Wars: Episode VIII hits theaters on December 15, 2017.