Star Wars’ Rian Johnson Explains What ‘Frustrates’ Him About Last Jedi Backlash

Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
(Image credit: Disney+)

The Star Wars franchise is truly a behemoth in the entertainment industry, thanks to TV shows, movie projects, and even theme parks. A few projects over the years have stood out for being divisive, and Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi is definitely on that list. This is largely thanks to the way the filmmaker subverted fan expectations, with the movie actually getting more appreciation in the years since its release. And Johnson recently explained what “frustrated” him about backlash that was aimed at The Last Jedi.

Rian Johnson’s Star Wars movie hit theaters back in 2017, and got a huge reaction from the generations of fans out there. The Last Jedi was the subject of some backlash online, including some racist hate aimed at Rose Tico actress Kelly Marie Tran. The Knives Out director spoke to The New Yorker about his career, including his stint in the galaxy far, far away. When asked if he still gets excited as a Star Wars fan after being in the throws of it, he said: 

Oh, fuck yeah. Yeah. My God. Yeah. In terms of that, I think I love Star Wars even more now. I think what actually frustrates me is people’s perception that I had a negative experience somehow, or people’s perception that it was somehow a traumatic experience, or something. The reality is that it was a completely joyful experience even through the back end of it, the past few years, the reception of it. No. And, when I read what those people were actually saying, I was, like, 'Oh, I completely disagree with this.' They’re wrong. For me. Everybody can like whatever they want and not like what they want. And Star Wars fans, in particular—growing up as one, arguing about other people’s opinions being wrong is sort of the bread and butter of it all. I didn’t feel crushed. Like, 'Oh, no, I didn’t make a real Star Wars movie.' I felt, like, 'No, I did.'

That’s definitely heartwarming. While Rian Johnson had his own experience with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, that hasn’t stopped him from being excited about future installments of the beloved property. Of course, he’s also fielding countless questions about his return to Star Wars, as it was announced that he would be helming another movie installment. Although the timeline of that project is currently a complete mystery.

Rian Johnson’s comments about Star Wars as a whole come as he’s promoting the upcoming release of his whodunnit sequel Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story (see the reviews here). Eventually the conversation turned to George Lucas’ beloved franchise, which Johnson has no doubt grown accustomed to over the years. Especially since the public is so eager for information about his next Star Wars movie.

As he explained to The New Yorker, Rian Johnson has no hard feelings about the Star Wars franchise. On the contrary, he had a great time working on the movie. And while there’s been a ton of discourse surrounding the plot twists of The Last Jedi, he stands by his work on Episode VIII. One can only imagine what he might bring to the galaxy if/when he finally gets behind the camera.

As the divisive contents of Star Wars: The Last Jedi broke the internet, Lucasfim was clearly happy with Rian Johnson’s work, and quickly announced that he’d helm a movie set outside of the main timeline of the Skywalker Saga. But there’s been no real word on what he might be planning, with the director instead putting his focus on the growing Knives Out franchise. Indeed, he recently indicated that he’ll be working on a threequel before eventually returning to the galaxy far, far away.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story will arrive in theaters on November 23rd, before arriving on Netflix December 23rd. In the meantime, check out the 2023 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience– just don’t expect to see any Star Wars titles on the list. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.