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Star Wars: Rian Johnson Talks Pressure And Episode VII’s Practical Effects

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Rian JohnsonYou may be burnt out on all of the Star Wars: Episode VII news (read: rumors) that has dropped over the course of the last couple of days, but what about Star Wars: Episode VIII news? We know even less about Episode VIII, which will reportedly hit theaters in 2017, than we do about Episode VII. All we know is the supposed release date and that Looper’s Rian Johnson will both write and direct the film. And we’ve heard that Daisy Ridley’s character will also appear in that movie. Johnson hasn’t said much since getting the gig, but he recently opened up about it a bit, as well as expressing his feelings and thoughts on Episode VII.

Talking to the Girls in Hoodies podcast (starting at approximately the 35 minute mark, but it’s all worth a listen), the topic, naturally, shifts to Star Wars talk, as will, I imagine, damn near every conversation he’s destined to have over the course of the next few years.

As you can imagine, he doesn’t have a whole lot of liberty to discuss the sequel to movie that hasn’t even finished shooting yet. When the announcement first came down, Johnson tweeted a YouTube clip of Scott Glenn from The Right Stuff urging himself not to fuck up, which is a succinct way to sum up his fears. He says:

Yeah, but the most surprising thing is just how not scary and how much fun … It’s boring to talk about because the only thing I can really say is I’m just happy. But I don’t have the terror that I kind of expected I would, at least not yet. I’m sure I will at some point.

There is, admittedly, a lot of pressure on anyone who accepts the Herculean task of making a Star Wars movie. No matter what, you’re not going to please everyone. Johnson says:

[C]oming at the time it does where, like if there’d been no Star Wars movies since Return of the Jedi there’d be a lot more pressure. But the fact we’ve had the prequels, we’ve had the TV shows, we’ve had Angry Birds Star Wars—I play it all the time!

Most of the interesting stuff Johnson has to say involves Episode VII, and because he’s now an official part of the family, he’s had the opportunity to hang out on set and drink it all in. He says:

…they’re shooting in London, which is why i just was in London, for reals. But yeah, I think I’m definitely going to go back. Visiting a set you’re not working on, though, I always feel kind of uncomfortable. Not because anyone makes you feel uncomfortable at all, but if you don’t have a job on the set, its a really strange place to be. But if there’s any set in the world to be on…

I imagine if I had the chance to visit the set I would just run around giggling and clapping and drooling like a simpleton. I’d also probably get kicked out for just running up and hugging every cast member I happened across.

X WingMuch has been made of the practical special effects director J.J. Abrams and company employ in the new project. This is a huge relief for those of us who suffered through the ubiquitous green screen jumble of George Lucas’ prequels. So far we’ve seen a few glimpses, like sets of the Millennium Falcon, that artificial hand, and that little Jim Henson-style puppet guy. And then there’s that new version of an X-Wing Fighter Abrams showed off in a Force for Change message. Having witnessed much of this firsthand, Johnson says:

They’re doing so much practical building for this one, its awesome. They’re doing it all right, yeah…I think people are coming back around [to practical effects] yeah, it seems like there’s a gravity pulling us back towards it…I think more and more people are hitting a critical mass as far as the CG-driven action scene, lending itself towards a very specific type of action film, where physics go out the window and it becomes so big so quick, and I probably sound like a grumpy old man talking about it. I do wonder, kids are growing up watching those and that’s the thing they love now. So I don’t know if it’s a generational thing.

Star Wars: Episode VII hits theaters December 18, 2015, while Johnson’s Episode VIII comes out sometime in 2017.

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