Star Wars Episode VIII Director Rian Johnson Suggests Working on the Sequels Is Probably Less Pressure Than the Prequels Were

Has the promulgation of Star Wars media over the last 15 years or so helped ease the way for Star Wars sequel and spinoff filmmakers? 

Star Wars Episode VIII director Rian Johnson certainly seems to think so.

In a new Girls in Hoodies podcast over at Grantland, the filmmaker said that while he can't talk much about the specifics of the project for obvious reasons, he's not feeling quite as much pressure as he thought he would (at least yet). He also suggested that if there had been a long gap since the last movie and a lot of built-up expectation, it probably would have made the process more difficult than it is to be taking on a generation of sequels built on the foundation of not only the original trilogy, but the prequels, Clone Wars and more.

"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," Johnson said. Asked whether it was a bit easier working in the Disney era and not answering directly to creator George Lucas, he added, "Yeah, I think that’s true. And coming at the time it does where we’ve – 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 them, we’ve had the prequels, we’ve had the TV shows, we’ve had Angry Birds Star Wars… I play it all the time!"

While fans have seen elements of the production, including a number of large practical props including an X-wing and pieces of the Millennium Falcon, Johnson elaborated somewhat on just how much of the J.J. Abrams-directed sequel will be done with practical effects and the logic behind the move.

"They’re doing so much practical building for this one. It’s awesome. They’re doing it all right, yeah," Johnson said. "I think people are coming back around to [practical effects], yeah, it feels like there is sort of that gravity pulling us back towards it. I think that more and more people are hitting kind of a critical mass in terms of the CG-driven action scene lending itself to a very specific type of action scene, where physics go out the window and it becomes so big so quick. I probably sound like a grumpy old man talking about it, but the thing is, I do wonder because I think kids are growing up watching those and that’s the thing that they love now so I don’t know whether it is a generational thing, and it could be."

Star Wars Episode VII is expected in theaters on December 18, 2015.