‘Star Wars’ shake-up: Rian Johnson to write, direct ‘Episode VIII’

June 20, 2014 | 12:47 p.m.
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Actor Harrison Ford, who was cast as Han Solo in the original "Star Wars" trilogy. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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Two women have joined the cast of "Star Wars: Episode VII": Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o, left, and Gwendoline Christie.

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"Inside Llewyn Davis" actor Oscar Isaac has been tapped to join the "Star Wars: Episode VII" cast. Click through to see who else scored a role in the film. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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Actress Daisy Ridley, relatively new to the acting scene, has also landed a role in the upcoming film "Inbetweeners II." (Matthew Brooks)

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Actor Adam Driver, best known for his work in the HBO comedy "Girls." (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

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Actor John Boyega, best known for playing Moses in the sci-fi flick "Attack the Block." (Tim P. Whitby / Getty Images)

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Actor Max von Sydow, who received Academy Award nominations for his work in "Pelle the Conqueror" and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close." (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson, who played Bill Weasley in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." (John Phillips / Invision / Associated Press)

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Actor Andy Serkis, best known for motion capture acting for roles such as Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and Caesar in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

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Actress Carrie Fisher, best known for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the original trilogy. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

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Actor Mark Hamill, best known for his portrayal of Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy. (Stephanie Cornfield / For the Times)

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Actor Anthony Daniels, best known as C-3PO in the original "Star Wars" trilogy. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

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Actor Kenny Baker, best known for portraying "Star Wars" robot R2-D2, left, and actor Peter Mayhew, best known for portraying Chewbacca in the original trilogy. (Keith Hamshere / Lucasfilm Ltd)

Rian Johnson is set to take the reins of the “Star Wars” franchise. The “Looper” filmmaker will write and direct “Star Wars: Episode VIII” and pen a treatment for “Episode IX,” a representative for Johnson confirmed to Hero Complex.

Johnson takes over for J.J. Abrams, who is currently helming “Episode VII” from a script he wrote with Lawrence Kasdan.

A representative for Disney, which owns Lucasfilm, declined to comment on the news of Johnson’s hiring.

Johnson’s previous films include the high-school noir “Brick” and the caper comedy “The Brothers Bloom,” and he’s best known for the mind-bending time-travel thriller “Looper,” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. The 2012 movie grossed $176 million at the worldwide box office.

Director Rian Johnson (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Director Rian Johnson (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Johnson, 40, is the latest genre-savvy young filmmaker to join the “Star Wars” universe: “Godzilla” director Gareth Edwards and “Chronicle” director Josh Trank have also been enlisted to direct two “Star Wars” standalone movies.

Abrams’ “Episode VII,” which hits theaters Dec. 18, 2015, is the first installment of a planned trilogy set 30 years after “Return of the Jedi.” The cast includes “Star Wars” veterans Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker, as well as franchise newcomers John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson and Max von Sydow.

On Johnson’s Twitter account Friday, he posted a cheeky YouTube video clip from “The Right Stuff” in which Scott Glenn, playing astronaut Alan Shepard, prepares for launch and says, “Dear lord, please don’t let me … up.”

— Oliver Gettell | @LATHeroComplex

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Comments


9 Responses to ‘Star Wars’ shake-up: Rian Johnson to write, direct ‘Episode VIII’

  1. Nick says:

    I prefer him more than J.J. Abrams and I think he will do a terrific job.

  2. Hans says:

    Good choice. JJ Abrahams feels like a Spielberg-Lucas copycat with few cinematic creative visions of his own. Rian has a fresh credit to propel this adventure into new dimensions, larger than Abrahams who basically is relaying on his masters who where hot shots 20 years ago. Sorry followers to both Spielberg and Lucas, but If this adventure is going to survive and deliver today it needs fresh talent from the digital age and much more demanding storytelling than ever before. From a European perspective it feels like that is hard to accomplish at all, looking at the predictable way movies are made in Hollywood today. What´s in the frames is what matters, more than ever, and it seems like Hollywood can´t deliver like ten years ago. Film-students be aware. Europe is not impressed at all by mainstream Hollywood standards today. You must be a lot more inventive in storytelling, even if you have all CG graphics computer power in the world.

  3. johan andersson says:

    Funnily enough, as a European myself, I think JJ Abrams has done good work, a bit to friendly with the lighteffects maybe, but good at keeping a fast paced story kicking and enjoyable…

    I also liked Looper a lot, there was some holes in it but nothing worse then the rest of the movies do…

    As per usual though, I prefer to wait and judge AFTER the fact, I will assume that I will enjout all the Star Wars movies, as I had the ones before this, I may not fancy all the things hapening in them, but on a whole I enjoyed them a lot, and even rewatch now and again… I think the miovies will become quite enjoyable, as to rewatchable, that remains to be seen :D

  4. Vince says:

    yay, this means new star wars might have a shot at being shot on a level camera, without everything being white and everyone just running all the time!

  5. xacbranch says:

    Let's not forget he also directed the best episodes of Breaking Bad… Fly, Fifty One, Ozymandias.

  6. corey says:

    This movie needs to go back to the original and leave the cgi crap behind. Only then will this movie be awesome!

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