Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Knives Out director Rian Johnson stated in a recent interview that he believes that attempting to appeal to fans instead of making the audience feel “challenged” is a “mistake.”
On December 13th, Johnson appeared on the Swings & Mrs. podcast, a sports talk show hosted by former San Diego Padres player Cody Decker and his wife Jennifer. Amidst discussions about Knives Out, Breaking Bad, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, Decker asks Johnson for his thoughts on “telling your story that you know is the right way to tell it” versus “trying to make subsects of fandom happy.”
Johnson replied that attempting to appeal to the latter was a “mistake” [Time Stamp: 48:00]:
“I think approaching any creative process with [the goal of making subsects of fandom happy] would be a mistake that would lead to probably the exact opposite result. Even my experience as a fan, you know if I’m coming into something, even if it’s something that I think I want, if I see exactly what I think I want on the screen, it’s like “Oh, okay.” It might make me smile and make me feel neutral about the thing and I won’t really think about it afterwards, but that’s not really going to satisfy me.”
Johnson goes on to say his aim while makings films is to create “something that’s emotionally resonant” and surprises audiences:
“What I’m aiming for every time I sit down in a theater is to have the experience [I had] with Empire Strikes Back, something that’s emotionally resonant and feels like it connects up and makes sense and really gets to the heart of what this thing is and in a way that I never could have seen coming.”
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the J.J. Abrams directed sequel to Johnson’s The Last Jedi, releases today. Abrams has previously stated that “didn’t really derail anything that we were thinking about.”
However, despite Abrams best intentions, reactions to the final film of the trilogy have been mixed at best.
What do you make of Johnson’s recent comments?