Looper director Rian Johnson has described working on Star Wars Episodes VIII and IX as "the most fun I've ever had writing".
In a discussion with legendary director Terry Gilliam recorded for the TalkHouse podcast, Johnson spoke in broad terms about what his latest job means for him, and what attracted him to the project beyond his own love for the series.
"I'm just starting into it, but so far it's been nothing but...honestly, it's the most fun I've ever had writing. It's just joyous," he said. "The first movies I was making in my head were part of this world, so part of it is a direct connection - it's almost like an automatic jacking-in into childhood in a weird way."
Johnson was hired in June to write and direct Star Wars: Episode VIII and write a treatment for Episode IX, with a possible view to directing that as well. He got the job after celebrated but largely under-the-radar work. His debut feature Brick and most recent Looper are both critically-lavished cult classics, but Johnson has never before branched out into filmmaking on this kind of scale.
"I'm figuring it out as I go," he continued. "I'm dancing on top of the avalanche a little bit. But it's a challenge of remembering what inspires you about [the original films], but I think you can probably go to the wrong place by feeling too responsible to it. You have to keep your head loose enough to tell a story you actually care about."
Johnson's most famous work has been on TV series Breaking Bad, for which he directed multiple episodes including third-from-final episode Ozymandias, considered by many to be one of the finest episodes of television ever made.
Star Wars will put Johnson on his biggest ever platform, and put his talents and abilities under a level of scrutiny he has never faced. Making the decision was easy though according to Johnson, and not just because he grew up with the original trilogy.
"Well, that's been the great thing about it –Kathleen [Kennedy, LucasFilm president] and her whole creative team have been so insistent on all the filmmakers they've been hiring for these new movies: 'We want you to take it and turn it into something that you really care about.'
"We'll see how the process plays out, but so far, that's a big part of the reason I'm [doing the film]. Because that just seems like their attitude towards it. It's really exciting actually."
Johnson's Star Wars is believed to be out in 2017 – going by LucasFilm's declaration that they would release a new Star Wars every year and plug the gaps between core films with spin-offs – with JJ Abrams' Episode VII coming late next year.