With Rogue One: A Star Wars Story now headed into the fifth weekend of its triumphant ($477 million and counting) theatrical run, fans are already looking ahead to the next installment in the unstoppable franchise — director Rian Johnson’s as-yet-untitled Episode VIII, which will continue the series’ primary story by picking up right where J.J. Abrams’ 2015 smash Star Wars: The Force Awakens left off: with Rey and Luke Skywalker on that remote rocky landscape. But what else is there to know about the hotly anticipated sequel? For the first time, Johnson has spoken about his work on the mythic intergalactic saga — and he’s promising his contribution will deliver some old-school fun.
In an exclusive interview with USA Today conducted before the death of Carrie Fisher (who finished her work on Episode VIII before she passed away in late December), Johnson discloses that the film will concentrate on exploring the relationship between Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Rey (Daisy Ridley): “It very much feels like what we all go through in adolescence, the dawning of this new chapter of our lives.” Moreover, the issue of family will be central to the story. In particular, it’ll be “a huge part of especially Rey’s character, something that was a really powerful part of her setup and something I really wanted to dig into with this.”
When it comes to Luke, Johnson says “I’m approaching it with a take that I hope feels honest and real and is going to be interesting to folks and make sense.” And he intends the film to be a joyous sci-fi ride from start to finish: “I want it to be a blast and to be funny and to be a ride the way The Force Awakens and the original Star Wars movies were.”
And as for the film’s official title? Johnson says he’s had one since he began work on the project two years ago — but for now, he’s still not disclosing it. We’ll assume he’ll spill the beans on that by the time Episode VIII arrives in theaters on Dec. 15.
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