Adam Driver recently sat down with Collider to talk about his upcoming film Paterson, directed by Jim Jarmusch. Considering the actor is also confirmed as returning for Star Wars: Episode VIII, the inevitable blockbuster came up during the interview. Driver provided some vague information about the sequel, presumably to stop the interviewer from pestering him for specific details about Episode VIII:
[The story is] great. It’s similar to how The Empire Strikes Back has a different tone. For that people always go “oooh, it’s dark” but I don’t know that it necessarily is. It’s just different in tone in a way that I think is great and necessary but also very clear. [Rian Johnson] trusts [that] his audience is ready for nuance and ambiguity. He’s not dumbing anything down for someone and that’s really fun to play.
Although it won’t help the legions of Star Wars fans who already did a spit take all over their monitors, it’s worth pointing out that Driver is talking about the amount of change in tone between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, and not necessarily that Episode VIII would be aiming to recreate the same tone as Episode V. That shift could mean anything, from a nuanced Coruscant noir to an ambiguous Bespin comedy, options which should reassure everybody.
Additionally, Driver had nice things to say about director Rian Johnson:
Maybe this is just me thinking of myself, but I’m surprised [because] in their shoes I’d be way more stressed out than [J.J. and Rian] seem to be. Rian is coming into something that we kind of set up and he just took it to the next level in a really great way. He wrote it, too, and Rian’s writing is so clear. I learned a lot of things about my character through his writing. Some things we talked about before and some things we didn’t. He was working on [the script] while we were still working on the first one. To understand what J.J. was doing and take ownership from there is kind of a remarkable thing. And he’s the most polite, unassuming guy and he was appropriately territorial about some things but would still be the first to admit when something’s not working. A lot of times you need to rise to understand what the script is, and perhaps I’m beginning to be unclear, but he’s a great person to work with.
In other words, Johnson is a good writer, director, and all-around nice guy. Driver’s assessment isn’t surprising—Johnson’s already established himself with smart, original projects like Brick, The Brothers Bloom, and Looper. Although he hasn’t yet proven that he can deliver a compelling film while under the heat lamp of the Lucasfilm-Disney industrial complex, that’s probably where the “polite, unassuming” demeanor pays dividends.
We’ll find out exactly what nice-guy director Rian Johnson is morphing Star Wars into when Episode VIII: Money Never Sleeps opens on December 15, 2017.