Today marked my first day at SXSW, and it was definitely one hell of a way to start it all off. My adventure began with a trip to the Austin Convention Center for a session with Rian Johnson, director of "The Last Jedi". This was easily one of my most anticipated events, and I still have three days left!
First off, Rian is an absolutely wonderful human being. He’s so wholesome and sweet with an infectious laugh. For those of you who may not know, Rian started off as an independent filmmaker. Made famous from “Brick” and “Looper” along with a few episodes of “Breaking Bad” that he also had under his belt. So, how did a small indie director get a chance to direct one of the biggest blockbuster franchises in history? Well, they came to him. The critical acclaim of “Looper” gained him a boatload of attention, especially from Lucasfilm. He had gotten in the habit of turning down big blockbusters, but much like how all of us feel, Star Wars held a very special place in his heart; he just couldn’t say no.
Throughout this panel you could really see how passionate he was about making “The Last Jedi”, and a little over halfway through he brought out a special surprise guest to talk about it with him… MARK. HAMILL.
Yes, I almost screamed when he stepped on stage. He also received a standing ovation from the entire room.
The two of them share a very special bond, and they both had many of the same visions for the story. Mark agreed that it was time for a new generation outside of the Skywalker bloodline to begin in the Star Wars universe. He exclaimed, “I had so much satisfaction with the original trilogy. We had a beginning, middle, and end, and I was looking forward to the new Star Wars films without me”, jokingly adding in, “I loved “Rogue One” because it had 100% less me!” There’s definitely a new vibe in the air where the creative tides are shifting in this cinematic universe. Johnson has opened a gateway for new filmmakers to further explore different storylines with new characters. He took a daring chance with “The Last Jedi”, and many people are excited to see this brand new page unfold.
These two also released a documentary while at SXSW called “The Director and The Jedi”, which chronicled the process of filming “The Last Jedi” and the friendships that were solidified on set including with the late, great, Carrie Fisher. Both Mark and Rian had such lovely things to say about her and the lasting impressions she left with people, not only on set, but in life as well. If you want to catch “The Director and The Jedi” you can find it on the special features on the DVD/Blu-Ray of “The Last Jedi”!