The latest ‘Star Wars’ documentary explores all of the behind the scenes stresses and triumphs from ‘The Last Jedi.’
As part of the Documentary Spotlight category at this year’s SXSW, director Anthony Wonke brought his film The Director and the Jedi for its world premiere. Documenting the making of Rian Johnson‘s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the film follows the cast and crew as they come together to make the eighth episode of the main saga of the biggest franchise on the planet. Whether or not you are a fan of The Last Jedi specifically, the doc will probably make you laugh, cry, and remember why you love Star Wars, in general, all over again.
Below are some interesting bits about The Last Jedi we learned from both the documentary and the Q&A afterward with Johnson, Wonke, Mark Hamill, and producer Ram Bergman.
1. Before even wrapping up production, Johnson was heckled on social media by Russian bots begging him not to kill off General Hux in the movie, as our own Neil Miller discussed.
2. We all probably know by now that Hamill didn’t necessarily agree with Johnson’s choice of characterization for Luke Skywalker, but at the Q&A following the documentary, they set the record straight. “It wasn’t a distaste at all,” Hamill said. “It was just a Luke I didn’t really understand.” Johnson himself chimed in to say that he was very thankful for Hamill’s dedication to the story, and that it is healthy to have dialogue between directors and actors. Hamill also noted later in the Q&A again that he was the same with George Lucas, and that as an actor, he’s “an assistant to the chef.”
3. The character of Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) was a particular favorite of Johnson’s to write because she felt like a “true nerd,” someone he says he would have hung out with in high school. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), however, was the most exciting to write in that he’s a villain who is complex. Someone you can maybe sympathize with or identify with in some sense.
4. Several months of work went into creating Kylo Ren’s scar.
5. The Last Jedi team never wanted to use a computer-animated Yoda. The art team in charge of designing the Yoda puppet for the film found the original model from the first trilogy and ended up replicating that one as close as they possibly could. And of course, everyone was excited to bring Frank Oz back in to do the voice of Yoda.
6. When Johnson told Hamill that the title of the film is The Last Jedi, his first response was, “Ooo, that means me!”
7. Carrie Fisher was a complete joy and inspiration to work with on set. She said that Johnson is good with story, good with actors, and a lot more dominating than he looks at first glance.
8. To gather footage for the documentary, the cast and crew were radio mic-ed every day, all day on set. Johnson said that documentaries have always been magic to him because he is “baffled by how they can get such intimate moments with a camera sitting there.”
9. During the Q&A, Johnson noted that probably about 70% of the movie was shot on film while the other 30% was digital.
10. While discussing what it’s like to see people’s reactions to the film on social media, Hamill reminisced about the days of physical fan mail in comparison to Twitter criticism. To this same discussion, Johnson commented that once you focus in on the work, a lot of the outside conversation and social media struggles fall to the side and you begin to think on the story you’re trying to tell and why you’re trying to tell it.
11. Hamill said that one of his strategies for balancing the scope of the film and the intimacy of character was to pretend that the movie was a small arthouse production. Otherwise, the pressure would be intense. At the end of the day, however, he said that “When you get down to it, it’s not Mark Hamill in a blockbuster. It’s Luke.”
12. Before starting The Last Jedi, George Lucas didn’t exactly give Johnson any specific advice, but rather gave him a “good luck, kid” sort of encouragement in a very gracious way, according to Johnson.
13. Long before The Last Jedi, when first told that there would be another Star Wars trilogy, Hamill said Fisher slammed her fists on the table and yelled, “I’m in.” He, however, was a little more skeptical and didn’t officially join until he heard Harrison Ford was on board. Hamill made two requests: He didn’t want his role to be a cameo, and he wanted a run of the trilogy role.
Referring to the second condition at the Q&A he remarked, “See how well that worked out?”
14. When Bergman was asked at the Q&A about whether more money meant more problems, he answered that while money allows you to hire the best people in the business and that sometimes there can be extra pressures with more travel, sets, and all of that, at the end of the day, the work is the same work. “I think making a movie is the same whether we make Brick or we make Star Wars,” he said.