Star Wars: Episode VIII Director Reveals Two Classic Movies That Will Inspire His Film

If you aren't already excited for Rian Johnson's Star Wars movie, you're in good need of an attitude adjustment. Back in 2005, the young director exploded on the scene with his fantastic debut Brick, and has since brought us stylish and creative thrillers like The Brothers Bloom and Looper - not to mention some of the best episodes of Breaking Bad. Sadly we still have a long time to wait until his vision actually makes its way to theaters, but the filmmaker is already hard at work finding inspiration for what his movie will be.

A guest on the 500th episodes of the Filmspotting podcast (via Chicago Sun Times), Johnson explained to the hosts that he can't tell anyone about what he's working on ("I’m really excited about all the things I can’t tell you"), but over the course of the interview he revealed that he and his crew have already been starting to watch films to try and determine the best approach to Star Wars: Episode VIII. While you may have never heard of the titles, the director said that two of the most recent titles his staff have watched are the Henry King-directed World War II feature Twelve O’Clock High (starring Gregory Peck) and Letter Never Sent, a Russian adventure film made back in 1959 by director Mikhail Kalatozov.

Discussing the opportunity to actually make a movie in the storied Star Wars franchise, Johnson also explained that he remains over the moon about the fact that he actually has the gig. "The thought of it made me so completely joyfully happy," the director explained, Skyping in from San Francisco where he is developing Episode VIII. "I wanted to play in this world, of literally the first movie my dad put me in the car to see." Happy as he is to have the job, though, there's still a part of him that is waiting for the other shoe to fall and for the dream to be taken away from him. Said Johnson,

"I can only assume it was a clerical error, like in the movie Brazil. There’s a Brian Johnson out there who is really mad."

The interview also offered opportunity for Johnson to give his thoughts on the highly-divisive Star Wars prequels, and the director chose the respectful route. "There was something really beautiful about the prequels," he said, before jokingly adding, "With these films, I am trying to harken back to the original Star Wars…. Christmas Special. We do have Jefferson Starship."

Theoretically, we won't actually get to see Rian Johnson's first contribution to the Star Wars franchise until 2017 (two years after Star Wars: Episode VII and one year after the first of the Star Wars spin-off movie), but it's interesting to think how about many secrets currently exist in his head. At this point, the guy has to know absolutely everything about J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: VII, and he's the man constructing where the story goes after that point. If there's anyone in the world just asking to be incepted right now, it's him.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.