Filmmaker George Lucas is the name most often associated with the Star Wars films, an understandable connection for the man who wrote and directed the original film, spawning more than 40 years of fandom. Another name that deserves to be associated with the series is composer John Williams, the man responsible for crafting the music for the films that is just as iconic as any character or bit of dialogue.
Despite the studio originally wanting to go with a more contemporary disco soundtrack back in 1977, Lucas knew the power that a classical score could give the film, creating a more timeless quality than cashing in on a trend. Lucas was absolutely correct in his decision to hire John Williams, who went on to compose the scores for the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy, and The Force Awakens.
Writer/director of The Last Jedi Rian Johnson recently dropped by The Star Wars Show to update fans on the progress of the upcoming film, recounting his experience of first sitting down to watch the film alongside the prolific composer.
Based on this interaction, however, it sounds like even a director of a Star Wars film can embarrass themselves while attempting to make a joke, just like the rest of us.
Johnson revealed, "When I sat down, the very first time, to watch the movie with John Williams...the lights went down and the Lucasfilm [logo appeared] and the 'Galaxy far, far away...' and the opening fanfare [began], I leaned over and I said, 'This first cue is temp, we'll do something totally different here,' and he looked at me and he didn't realize that I was joking, and the music started up so I couldn't say I was joking because it was too loud."
The director then joked about how embarrassed he was and how he regretted making a "dad joke" to such a prolific composer without being able to clarify his jest.
Prior to working on the massive blockbuster, Johnson developed a following through his work on independent films like Brick and The Brothers Bloom. Even though he's working on a much larger scale, the director explained that, logistically, there's no difference between a big budget film compared to a small budget film.
Johnson explained, "You have more time, you have more stuff, but the actual process of making a scene work with a couple of actors and the camera doesn't change. Problem-solving on your feet."
However, the filmmaker did recognize just how lucky he was to be involved in the production.
The director noted, "Every now and then, we would just look at each other over the camera and just...[gapes mouth open]. We'd be talking about the framing of a shot and step back and say, 'Yeah, that's C-3PO in the middle of the frame. Yeah, okay [laughs].'"
Although he knew he couldn't turn down the opportunity to make The Last Jedi, Johnson was, at the time, trepidatious about the endeavor. Luckily, those fears almost completely subsided once he began the script-writing process.
"Having been part of Star Wars fandom for the past 40 years, I know how strongly people are going to have opinions about it. And all those things made it seem terrifying," Johnson confessed. "Once I actually jumped into it, it was the most fun I've ever had writing. It was the least scary process."
The filmmaker wasn't embarking on the journey alone, luckily, with the full support of Lucasfilm on his side.
"Part of it was that I wasn't alone for the process. I was writing on my own but I moved up to San Francisco for a few months and, every few weeks, I would go in with Kiri Hart and her whole story group team and I would just put everything I was thinking up on the white board and just bounce it off everyone to just see what everyone thought," John detailed. "Having that kind of gut check, not just, 'Oh wait, don't do that,' but, 'Yeah, you can do that. If that's interesting to you, take that path.' Having that permission from somebody, that had a lot to do with it."
The biggest motivator ended up being Johnson himself.
Johnson confessed, "The first thing I realized was that I had to trust my inner fan. If it resonates with me, I've gotta trust that. It's what George did with the original movies."
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the second film in the new Star Wars sequel trilogy that began with Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015. The film will deal with Luke training Rey to become a, and possibly the last, Jedi. Meanwhile, the Resistance, including Poe Dameron and First Order defector Finn, continues to fight against the First Order, led by General Hux, while Supreme Leader Snoke and his Dark Side follower Kylo Ren continue their mysterious plot. The film is written and directed by Rian Johnson and stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis, Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, and Kelly Marie Tran.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters December 15th, 2017.