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Who is 'The Last Jedi'? 'Star Wars: Episode VIII' director Rian Johnson explains

Gwynne Watkins
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Yahoo Movies

There’s one spoiler that Star Wars: The Last Jedidirector Rian Johnson doesn’t mind giving away, and it has to do with the title. In a New York Times interview about the upcoming Star Wars sequel (in theaters Dec. 15), Johnson gave a surprisingly straightforward answer to the question “What does ‘the Last Jedi’ mean?”

“It’s in the opening crawl of The Force Awakens,” Johnson explained. “Luke Skywalker, right now, is the last Jedi… And he’s removed himself and is alone on the island, for reasons unknown.”

Rian Johnson (pointing) directs Carrie Fisher in The Last Jedi. (Credit: Lucasfilm)

Of course, that answer doesn’t preclude the possibility of Rey becoming a Jedi herself by the end of the film, since the word “Jedi” can be singular or plural. In the interview, Johnson said that the relationship between Mark Hamill‘s Luke and Daisy Ridley‘s Rey is “the heart of the movie… its real essence is the development of the two of them. And it’s absolutely tied up in that question of, What is Luke’s attitude toward the Jedi?”

The Times profile also sheds some light on the process of developing the new Star Wars films. Johnson, who also wrote the screenplay, said he was given a great deal of autonomy over the story. “I had figured there would be a big map on the wall with the whole story laid out, and it was not that at all,” he said. “I was basically given the script for Episode VII; I got to watch dailies of what J. J. [Abrams, who directed The Force Awakens] was doing. And it was like, where do we go from here?”

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi (Photo: Lucasfilm)

If that’s standard practice, it could help explain why Colin Trevorrow was ousted from Episode IX.As a writer and director, Trevorrow has far fewer credits than Abrams or Johnson; it’s possible that after the release of his original drama The Book of Henry,which received some of the year’s worst notices, producer Kathleen Kennedy no longer trusted his storytelling instincts. But that’s just speculation. In the Times interview, which took place before Trevorrow was fired, Johnson seemed confident about passing the baton to him. “I’ve been available, and he’s shot me questions,” said Johnson. “But I’m pretty much sitting back and seeing how it’s going to come together for him.”

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