While the galaxy is still losing their minds over Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the stars of the film are already looking ahead and focused on the next installment into the saga. The next Star Wars film is due out this December in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and as crazy as it sounds, The Force Awakens sequel is due out the following May in 2017, only a year and a half away.
Before The Force Awakens was even released, Episode VIII writer and director Rian Johnson was already busy filming scenes back in Ireland, with principal photography beginning here very shortly. So with that, it comes to no surprise that the stars of the franchise have already read the script. And according to partners in crime Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, as well as their The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams, the overwhelming positive reaction from critics and fans alike will continue in the sequel.
While speaking with Variety, the breakout actress offered her thoughts on the Episode VIII script. While Ridley’s response is very brief, she has nothing but good things to say about the script that was solely written by Rian Johnson:
“It’s very good; very good.”
Now of course, with her being the leading protagonist of the new era of Star Wars, she’s not going to criticize the work of her director. But at the same time, we have no reason to believe that she is misleading us, so it is very comforting hearing her praise this early in the process.
Although we all (at least I think we all?) walked away from The Force Awakens absolutely loving all the new characters we took this new journey with, the conversation can’t continue without mentioning J.J. Abrams. Most of, if not all the credit can be thrown in Abrams’ direction. Now while I do love the direction Disney and Lucasfilm are taking the franchise and handing off each film to different directors, I’m still a little bummed that Abrams will not be returning for the sequel, especially after seeing The Force Awakens.
Even though he won’t be back, there’s just no way he won’t be sticking around in some way, shape or form, most likely as an Executive Producer. Because Star Wars is so big and so important, these directors and writers have to work very closely to make sure it goes in the right direction. Abrams didn’t want to take on the sequel for a number of reasons, many being understandable, but could be be regretting that decision now?
According to Greg Grunberg, he may be just a little bit. Abrams and Grunberg go way back, and Grunberg often appears in Abrams’ work, both film and television. His most recent appearance was in The Force Awakens, as Resistance X-Wing Pilot Snap Wexley. Anyway, while speaking with The Washington Post, Grunberg said this of his long-time friend:
“He read it and said something he never, ever says. He said: ‘It’s so good, I wish I were making it.’ He may have said something one time on Lost, with Damon [Lindelof, the co-creator], but I never hear him express regret like that.”
There’s no doubt that I would definitely love to believe these comments, because they would mean the door is open to Abrams possibly returning one day. But, Grunberg is someone who likes to speak out about a lot of things, almost in a cry wolf type fashion. Which tells me that Abrams isn’t losing any kind of sleep over his decision, and that these comments are really more of a ‘job well done sir’ towards Johnson and his script.
While Daisy Ridley is the new force to be reckoned with in these new films, John Boyega is not far behind. As
FN-2187 Finn, the stormtrooper turned Resistance fighter, Boyega brought a charismatic, layered, and relatable performance to a different kind of Star Wars character. And while it can be argued that Finn was kind of just along for the ride, I very much enjoyed him and Boyega’s performance.
Just as the rest of the new characters, there is a ton of story left to tell for the former stormtrooper. Which is one of the bigger questions going into The Force Awakens sequels, where does this character go? Is he force sensitive? Could he take over the Millennium Falcon? Will he become a central part of the Resistance? Many questions still to be answered for the character and luckily for us, Boyega is starting to tease us with the kind of Episode VIII role he’s preparing for:
“My part in the next film will be much more physical so I might be in the gym a bit more.”
Continuing his interview with British Vogue, Boyega also commented on Rian Johnson’s script, calling it “great” and “much darker” than The Force Awakens. Which is expected for the second installment in a trilogy, especially Star Wars and especially with a director like Rian Johnson at the helm. With The Force Awakens being a bit of a homage towards Episode IV (as well as the other original trilogy films), don’t be surprised to see Episode VIII have similar elements as The Empire Strikes Back.
With J.J. delivering the highest critical response for a Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back, it can now be argued that Johnson is under more pressure than Abrams was. Yes, Abrams had to wash-away all those years of prequel stink, but now that the bar has been set with an insanely thrilling experience, Johnson indeed does have a tough task ahead of him. But for anyone who’s familiar with his work knows that he is without a doubt up for the task. His resume is quite accomplished, with features such as Brick and the twisted sci-fi Looper, as well as a few episodes of Breaking Bad. With Episode VIII expected to be much darker than its predecessors, Johnson almost feels like the perfect fit. His style of filmmaking leaves the door open for some compelling and very exciting storytelling.
Ryan Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII hits a galaxy near you on May 26th, 2017.