Star Wars: Potential New Director Had Cameo in The Rise of Skywalker

Earlier today it was revealed that one of the next Star Wars movies has seemingly found its director with Sleight and Sweetheart director J.D. Dillard reportedly working with Lucasfilm to develop a new entry in the series. Luke Cage and Agents of SHIELD writer Matt Owens will pen the script, but details about the film's story or focus aren't known at this time. Interestingly enough though, this isn't Dillard's first forray into the galaxy far, far away. The writer/director had a cameo appearance in Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, making his big-screen debut in that galaxy far, far away as the First Order Stormtrooper FN-1226.

This wasn't just a random cameo though, Dillard has a history in the franchise that goes back further too as he was previously employed at J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot productions, working at the receptionist desk while pitching his projects in Hollywood. As Fast Company recounts, Abrams got wind of the writer's aspirations and gave him the chance to pitch to Bad Robot. Though none of this projects got picked up, Dillard did get the opportunity to work with Abrams on the biggest film of both of their careers, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Dillard found himself traveling the world working on Episode VII, learning plenty of lessons along the way.

“For that year on set watching one of my favorite directors helm perhaps my favorite film franchise, that was the tinder and the match strike that lit the fire in me that I wanted to evolve my career from just writing to also directing,” Dillard told the outlet last year. “So my first film, in a way, was inspirationally made in the shadow of The Force Awakens, which was super bizarre and super special.”

After working on Star Wars: The Force Awakens Dillard began working on his feature directorial debut, the modestly budgeted Sleight from Blumhouse Tilt, he took the lessons learned on the biggest set he'd ever worked on to the smallest.

“I tried to borrow as much as I could from watching that production–minor techniques, but also how to deal with people, how to talk to people, how to make people feel like artists, not just technicians . . . all the things that just were so apparent on [The Force Awakens] set.”

Dillard also recounted a time working on the set of Force Awakens and being one of the first people to see footage from the movie and how it inspired him.

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“In Abu Dhabi, I was with the group for what I think was the first dailies review for [The Force Awakens]. I remember feeling the anticipation. As a fan, I was quietly losing my mind,” Dillard said. “But as those first shots rolled–just the raw, VFX-less, soundless, images–the sort of cosmic cultural weight of Star Wars melted away, and I realized I was just watching a guy who wanted to make sure he was telling a good story.”

It's unclear what Dillard's Star Wars project might be but t is reportedly disconnected from the projects that Kevin Feige and Rian Johnson are also developing for Lucasfilm. One big question about the movie as well is if it is being developed for the big screen or for Disney+. Currently, Lucasfilm has announced three release dates for Star Wars films, beginning in December of 2022 and continuing into December of 2024 and December of 2026; but in that time Disney CEO Bob Iger has said countless times that Star Wars is taking a hiatus from movie theaters and will focus on Disney+.

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