The Last Jedi ending

Last Jedi Never Had Any Alternate Titles

Episode 8 was going to be The Last Jedi from the very start. “There were no alternate titles,” Johnson said. “Very early, when I started writing the script, I wrote the title page and it was The Last Jedi. And I never changed it.”

Rey’s Cave Scene Has Some Unique Inspirations

The stunning sequence where Rey searches for the answer of her parents’ identity in the dark cave in Ahch To only to be met with mirror images of herself “was a very, very early visual idea” that Johnson had. Johnson had visited Rick Carter, a production designer who works with Steven Spielberg and worked with Force Awakens who Johnson dubbed “the secret Yoda” of these movies, in Malibu where for a few weeks, they simply discussed life, spirituality, and the characters. “The mirror sequence kind of came out of those few weeks,” Johnson reveals.

“I had this vision of a million Reys going off into infinity in her search for her identity. At one point in my notes I had the wacky idea of ‘Oh, should it be like a [2001: A Space Odyssey] type thing where each of the Rey’s is a little bit younger? And she gets younger, and younger, and younger going back to her origin until you get to the end, it’s like the space baby in 2001 where it’s baby Rey. And there’s a shadowy figure holding the baby who you think it’s the mother, and it reveals that it’s Rey holding herself as a baby. Like really wacky stuff like that, that would probably end up looking plain silly.”

Johnson also noted that the sequence drew heavy inspiration from Jonathan Glazer’s 2013 sci-fi film Under the Skin, whose famously stark and surreal scene has influenced projects like Stranger Things as well. For Last Jedi, Johnson even got the effects company that worked on Under the Skin called One of Us, to work on that mirror sequence.

The Original Canto Bight Storyline Involved Poe and Finn

In Johnson’s first draft for Last Jedi, it was originally Poe and Finn who went off in the mission to Canto Bight. Rose didn’t exist at that point, Johnson said, reiterating the revelation we first learned in the Art of Star Wars book. “At the time, I thought it was awesome, it’s Butch and Sundance going off on an adventure!” Johnson said. “But as I writing it, it was boring because the two guys don’t challenge each other.”

Eventually, he split off Finn and Poe into their own separate storylines, which allowed him to explore the idea of who Poe really was — a mystery after the character disappeared for the majority of Force Awakens. After connecting Poe with Leia’s arc, it all fell into place. “That’s where the whole idea of where heroism vs. leadership came in,” Johnson said, describing the storyline where the hotheaded Poe learns of the burdens of leadership after endangering and nearly killing the remnants of the Resistance thanks to his mutinous scheme.

Where the Idea for the Red Salt Planet Came From

The visual of the brilliant red streaks standing out against the white salt planet was a “visual that came about very early” back during Johnson’s talks with Rick Carter. But more so than just being a beautiful and indelible image, Johnson wanted the landscape to reflect the ugliness of the battle itself. He said:

“I wanted to do a big battle and communicate the violence of it, but you don’t show blood in Star Wars movies, these are PG-13 movies. So the initial thing was to have a movie where the landscape itself could graphically communicate the violence of this battle. Also the notion that the landscape could evolve during the course of the battle, the idea at the beginning it’s white and pristine and it gets scarred and increasingly red. And when the cannon goes, it blows it all away so it just becomes a red hellscape. And as Luke comes back to the legend he needs to be and [starts] healing the world, the salt starts snowing down so it’s back to being pristine.”

Johnson Was Working on Another Sci-Fi Movie Before Last Jedi

After Looper, Johnson had an exciting idea for a sci-fi film but after spending over a year trying to crack the script, he couldn’t get anywhere with it. “I had the concept for it, but looking back, I realized I kind of put the cart before the horse, like I was kind of seduced by what was cool about the idea, but I didn’t have a grasp of the heart of it or what it was really about.”

Johnson was tight-lipped on what the premise for that sci-fi film would be, stating, “I’m still hoping that I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and say ah-hah it’s this!” Maybe we’ll see the film in the future, when Johnson isn’t tied to his new Star Wars trilogy — or maybe even sooner. Johnson wasn’t against the idea of tackling a new original film once he wrapped up his new trilogy, but he admitted that the Star Wars films “felt just as personal and meaningful to me as any my own films.”

Listen to the full episode of The /Filmcast will it goes live later tonight to hear more of Johnson’s insights and revelations about The Last Jedi.

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