With Rogue One now safely rolled out across the world, we find ourselves less than a year away from the next Star Wars saga instalment, this week revealed to be titled The Last Jedi. After filming in Skellig Michael (the island at the end of The Force Awakens), Pinewood, Dubrovnik, Croatia and County Cork, principal photography wrapped on 22 July 2016. Although deep in post-production — John Williams has already started recording the score — writer/director Rian Johnson took the time to answer Empire’s burning questions about the current state of play, the film’s influences and his cameo in Rogue One — did you spot him?
How are things going on Episode VIII?
Great! We’re in the thick of editing, really digging into it. It’s taking shape and I’m very excited.
Name three non-Star Wars films you watched in preparation.
Twelve O’Clock High was a big touchstone, for the feel and look of the aerial combat as well as the dynamic between the pilots. Three Outlaw Samurai for the feel of the sword-fighting, and the general sense of pulpy fun. And To Catch A Thief was a great film to rewatch, for the romantic scale and grandeur.
What are your memories of the first day of shooting?
Our first day of shooting was actually several months before principal photography began: we had three days on Skellig Michael island. So not only was it day one of Star Wars on this incredible natural location, but because the island was so inaccessible it was a very stripped-down, run-and-gun crew. Pretty much the perfect start to the whole adventure.