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Post Posted: December 20th 2017 8:57 pm
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Rian Johnson has been addressing many of the film's twists, turns and controversies in various interviews so here's the relevant quotes collected for easier reading. Feel free to add to it.

On Snoke's death:
source: Entertainment Weekly, Uproxx, IGN

"It would have stopped any of these scenes dead cold if he had stopped and given a 30-second speech about how he’s Darth Plagueis…It doesn’t matter to Rey. If he had done that, Rey would have blinked and said, ‘Who?’ And the scene would have gone on…and I’m not saying he’s Darth Plagueis!" That's a valid point but probably won't appease some angry fans.

"When I was working on the character of Kylo, I came to a place where I thought the most interesting thing would be to knock the shaky foundation out from under him at the beginning of this movie," Johnson said in regards to the story behind killing Snoke. "By the end of this film, he’s gone from being a wannabe Vader to someone who is standing on his own feet as a complex villain taking the reins."

"But then the question is: What place would Snoke have at the end of that?…That made me realize the most interesting thing would be to eliminate that dynamic between the ‘emperor’ and pupil, so that all bets are off going into the next one. That also led to the possibility of this dramatic turn in the middle, which could also be a really powerful connection point between Kylo and Rey."

You’re going to poo-poo this, but with Snoke it almost felt like you didn’t know where he was going anyway, so let’s just get rid of him.

[Laughs.] Um, no, yeah, that’s not really the driving force behind it. But I did definitely think the notion behind this movie, for me, from the start, was to evolve Kylo into a complicated, more solid villain. I guess “villain,” for lack of a better word. But someone who takes the reins and steps up and is no longer just pretending to be Vader, but has become his own version of a formidable force. And going into Episode IX, that’s the strongest launching pad. That’s where you want to put your money down. And if you’re dealing with a superior of his, that just seemed less interesting to me than clearing the deck so Kylo can be the main guy. And it gives an opportunity for a big, dramatic beat that’s really interesting and we get to have some fun with him.

“Well, I don’t know about ‘red herring’,” Johnson said. “But he is definitely… Snoke’s place in this movie came about largely from me figuring out Kylo’s arc, what Kylo’s arc was going to be in this movie. In my mind what I wanted to do with Kylo was to take him and basically knock out the kind of shaky foundation from under his feet, and build him by he end of the movie into someone who’s standing up as a credible, but complex villain.”

“He’s taken the reins, basically. He’s no longer a Vader pretender. He’s somebody who actually is going to be going into the next movie [as] someone who’s taken control and taken the reins of everything."

“That led very quickly to that idea,” Johnson explained. “Because then you get to… okay, you have Kylo there at the end, what is Snoke’s place in all this? And do you really want Kylo to be that but with an Emperor figure over him? And if it is that, then suddenly your options are much more familiar going into the next movie.”

“So it led to this notion of okay, so that means we’re going to have this dramatic moment where Snoke goes [dies] and that means that Kylo can then ascend, actually ascend. And then that means that all bets are off for the next movie and we can’t go into it with assumptions of what’s going to happen, because we’ve taken away the familiar element, which I think is powerful.”

“And ultimately Snoke was not built up in the last movie,” Johnson reminds us. “He was built up with fan theories since the last movie. The truth is Snoke has a couple of very brief scenes in the last film. And I love fan theories by the way. I don’t want to just poo-poo them. I think that’s an important part of Star Wars fandom and I think it’s really fun to think about where these people came from, but the truth is in terms of Snoke’s actual place in this movie, it’s much more similar to the Emperor’s place in the original trilogy.”

“It’s not about where he comes from. It’s not about his backstory. He is the guy behind the guy, and I think he plays out his part in this movie as is appropriate.”

On Luke's death:
source: Entertainment Weekly, Uproxx

"I had huge hesitance. I was terrified. It was a growing sense of dread when I realized this was going to make sense in that chapter." As for why he feels Luke's death is justified, he adds: "I think the hero’s journey of Luke Skywalker concluded in Return of the Jedi. This is the hero’s journey of Rey, and Finn, and Poe. The [ongoing] story of Luke is one that has to play in tandem with that of Rey."

Asked about the possibility of returning for Episode IX, Mark Hamill said: "I’m just still holding on to the line, ‘See you around, kid.’ I can be in Episode Nine! I might consider catering the film just so I can hang out."

Did you debate how to end it with Luke, or was that always the plan?

Well, I debated it a lot, but it was always in my head that always made sense to me for a lot of different reasons. First of all, this is Luke’s movie. Mark gives a great performance in it. His journey back to taking on the mantle of the legend of Luke Skywalker, basically — something he had rejected as being unhealthy for the universe. And him coming around to realizing that the galaxy needs this — “I need to be the legend they need me to be,” and taking that on his shoulders. Once he does that and comes back and does this heroic act that’s going to resonate throughout the universe, the notion that then that’s the moment to give him his final bow. And that’s the most emotionally potent time to do that made a lot of sense. And, honestly, thinking about the number of characters we have on our plate going into the next movie — and I’m not working on the script for IX with J.J. [Abrams] and Chris [Terrio] and I want to be totally clear I don’t know what they’re doing – but it just vaguely seemed good to me that putting Luke in another realm could open possibilities for his possible involvement in the next one. As opposed to him just being another character that had to be juggled into the plot, if that makes sense.

On Luke being tempted by the Darkside and whether or not Kylo is redeemable:
source: IGN

"Absolutely. That was the embodiment of The Dark Side, is the quick and easy path, right? It’s that glimpse of… and Luke has never been… it’s not like Luke is a Superman who’s impervious to that. Having just, even the brief moment of temptation of it," Johnson explains, "because that’s what that moment is. He doesn’t give in to the Dark Side, it’s a moment of temptation to the Dark Side."

"It reminds me very much of when Vader is tempting Luke, when Luke is underneath the stairs in [Return of the] Jedi, lit with that very beautiful half-and-half, the duality of these two sides of him being pulled. And that’s really what that moment is for me, it’s a moment of temptation to the Dark Side for Luke." That's a perfect explanation and one which makes a lot of sense for the character."

"Are you kidding? Vader was worse than Kylo ever was, I think, and Vader got redeemed," Johnson said. "Also, I should just for the record [say] that I’m not involved in the writing of the next movie. I’m an audience member in it, just like you, so when I talk about what’s going to happen next it’s in the context of, as a fan, what I’m thinking of."

On Rey's parentage and if Kylo was lying:

"I don’t think he’s lying in that moment — I think he is like telling what he saw and I think that Rey seems like she believes it in that moment. So for me, I wrote it as an honest revelation and as an honest kind of reaction to it, as opposed to a move in a game of chess.

"Now as we know in these movies, you know the whole idea of a certain point of view comes into play and as you know I’m not involved in writing the next movie. JJ [Abrams] and Chris [Terrio] are writing it so, I want to make it clear I’m not sure how it’s going to get resolved. For me the important part was saying it was an emotionally honest revelation, I feel like it, I don’t know, I believed it."

On Yoda's return:
source: Uproxx

That felt really important to me. And, actually, I cut some of that out and Frank Oz said to me I had to put it back. Because when I first pitched him the scene, it’s like the Yoda from Empire is back because that’s the one Luke had the emotional connection with. And that’s why we did the puppet and recreated the Empire puppet: Neal Scanlan and his team did a recreation of the Yoda puppet. It’s not only a puppet, it’s an exact replica of the Empire puppet. They found the original molds for it. They found the woman that painted the original eyes for Yoda. Then Frank came and worked with them for a few weeks to get the puppet right. He did a lot of testing and a lot of adjusting with the puppet creators. It was amazing to watch the process. The idea that the last time Luke saw Yoda was in Return of the Jedi and the notion of getting back to that version of Yoda to form the emotional connection with Luke – including a glimpse of the impishness, as part of their relationship. It made a lot of sense.

On new Force abilities:

"When Luke shows up he’s projecting, it’s like a hardcore variation of what Kylo and Rey have been doing the whole time and that’s why it takes so much out of him," Johnson told the Los Angeles Times. "In the version that we play – no – we tried to play really, really fair. In terms of his footsteps – we removed all of his foley — there are no footstep sounds. They never touch. And if you look, the salt flakes that are falling are sparking off of Kylo’s saber and not off of Luke’s."

"The truth is, because Star Wars until The Force Awakens has been set in amber and we hadn’t had a new Star Wars movie in 10 years, you forget that they were introducing new Force stuff with each movie, based on the requirements of the story. Force-grabbing didn’t come around until Empire, it wasn’t in A New Hope. Same with Force ghosts. They’d introduce new ideas of what could happen with the Force each time."

"The one point where we do introduce a bit of a twist in terms of Force ghosts is where Yoda calls down the lightning onto the tree," Johnson said. "That, I think, is a tantalizing hint of the potential of someone who is a Force ghost interacting with the real world."

On considering a Lando appearance:
source: The Playlist

“In terms of Lando, I briefly considered — would he work in the Benicio [Del Toro] part, [but] I don’t think you would ever buy that Lando would just completely betray the characters like that and have that level of moral ambiguity. Cause we love Lando and you’d come into it with that [expectation]. And also, DJ, the character that they met, for the purposes of Finn’s character, had to be a morally ambiguous character that you’re not sure about, that you’re guessing about, and we already know that we love the character of Lando so it just wouldn’t have played in that part story wise.”

On why he did not have Obi-Wan appear as a Force Ghost:
source: The Playlist

"Believe me, man. I would have loved to have had Ewan McGregor in the movie but it was just a matter of storytelling. The original relationship with Obi Wan — obviously if Alec Guinness were still with us that would have made sense. But we never saw Luke ever interact with the Ewan version of Obi Wan, so there’s less of the emotional connection and it might have been a little odd. So, it made sense and we could recreate that character [practically], so it made sense that Yoda be the one that comes back and kicks [Luke’s] butt a little."

Regarding the Lightsaber toss:
source: Collider

"So, that leads you down a really specific path in terms of where his head is at. And if he’s done that and if he’s made this huge Herculean effort to pull himself out of the fight, to hide in, like he says, ‘The most unfindable place in the galaxy,’ it took an entire movie for the most heroic, smartest people in the galaxy to even find him, he’s put himself away. Then some kid shows up that he doesn’t know and shoves this thing that is everything that he has made this huge effort to step away from into his face with this look in her eyes of expectation like, ‘Here you go,’ and what is he going to do? Take it and say, ‘Great. Let’s go save the galaxy.’ He’s made this choice. He’s there for a reason. I knew it was going to be shocking, but I did it because it felt like, obviously it’s a dramatic expression of it, but it’s an expression of honestly the way that he is going to react to that moment."

On shirtless Kylo:
source: Huffington Post

“The way in which [director Rian Johnson] decided to create the Force connection by just simply doing vertical cuts without using any CG ... it’s pure simplicity in terms of filmmaking with visual cuts. We cut to her side; we cut to Kylo Ren; we cut to her; and back and forth,” explained Star Wars: The Last Jedi co-sound supervisor Ren Klyce.

By having Kylo Ren appear shirtless and having Rey comment on it, it shows the audience that their Force connection allows the two to not just hear each other, but see each other as well.

“That was important to establish what she was actually seeing,” Klyce continued. “Was she hearing his voice or seeing his face or just his eyes? And so that [shirtless scene] is to inform the audience, ‘Oh, she can see his body.’”

Of course, "It's also good humor," Klyce added.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi editor Bob Ducsay confirmed Klyce's analysis as "exactly right," explaining that the Force connection scenes were meant to be shot "as if they were in the same room together, even though they're not."

“Over the course of those sequences, you come to understand all the rules of” that Force connection, Ducsay elaborated. “Ultimately, it’s just good storytelling if the audience is learning things the same time the characters they’re following are, instead of ahead or behind.”

On Phasma's screentime and role in the film:
source: IGN

“I mean, as you can see, man, we had a really full movie already. We had a big, big movie with a lot of characters we were trying to serve, and the God’s honest truth is, every character had to find their natural place.”

“And Phasma supports Finn’s storyline, obviously, and there just… until she shows up to fight him at the end, look through the story that we have, there’s just not a lot of space to go into a big Phasma storyline in it.”

"So the truth is,” Johnson concludes. “It’s just a very big cast and you have to kind of pick your battles with it.”

On if he considered changing Leia's scenes after Carrie Fisher's passing:
source: IGN

“No. I mean, after we came back from New Year’s, Kathy [Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm] and I had a conversation and I felt really strongly that we had a beautiful performance from her,” Johnson said.

“Because if we did that [let Leia die], first of all that would feel like a very unsatisfying end to that character, because that moment of her getting blown out [into space] was not engineered to be an ending. And second, that would mean we would lose the scene with her and Luke, the scene with her and Rey at the end, the scene with her and Holdo. So much stuff that I feel I wanted to have from Carrie. I didn’t want to lose that.”

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