After Star Wars brass fired Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow last week, speculation immediately began about who was going to replace him. Lots of names floated around, but the most logical one was Rian Johnson, the director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
That would have been a neat way to tidy up the mess the Trevorrow firing has caused, but Johnson doesn’t sound like he’s looking to return for another Star Wars movie.
During an interview with Japanese press, Johnson was asked about possibly returning for Episode IX, and he pretty much said he wasn’t going to return to direct.
For me, I was entirely focused on Episode VIII and having this experience and now I’m just thinking of putting the movie out there and seeing how audiences respond to it. So no, I’m not really thinking about that now. Whoever does it, I’m going to be really excited to be an audience member again. And to sit down and see what the next filmmaker has to show us and where this story ends up going.
Johnson was very diplomatic with his words, but he pretty much closed the door on returning. He said he’s looking forward to becoming “an audience member again” and that he’ll sit down with the “next filmmaker,” already passing the duty to somebody else. That sounds like somebody who’s not going to return for a future Star Wars movie.
That throws a wrench into Kathleen Kennedy’s plans, but it’s easy to understand Johnson’s trepidation to return. Star Wars movies are huge productions with gigantic expectations that also comes with a lot of studio meddling.
Star Wars brass has been known for being hands on when developing its vision, and that may be difficult for directors to balance with their own vision. It’s a balancing act that has already led to three directors being fired.
Returning to direct back-to-back Star Wars movies would be a tall task for anyone to embark on, and it doesn’t sound like Johnson is even going to entertain the question. And so the search for an Episode IX director continues.