Adam Driver Likens Star Wars: Episode VIII to The Empire Strikes Back

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Adam Driver is having a fairly good run in Hollywood. Following success in smaller roles on HBO’s Girls and in films like Francis Ha and Inside Llewyn Davis, the actor has now been catapulted into stardom through his work on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Now, with Episode VIII on the horizon, Driver is discussing what that film might look like.

While promoting his new film Paterson at the Toronto International Film Festival, Driver sat down with the Toronto Star to discuss his feelings about the directors he’s worked with thus far on the Star Wars films:

I’d much rather do movies with great directors for nothing, but I also feel in the franchise world I lucked out. On the first one, J.J. Abrams was directing, and on the most recent one, Rian Johnson was directing. So, the type of horror stories I’ve heard about typical Hollywood blockbuster franchises, I can’t relate to any of that, because the people in charge, the directors I’ve been lucky enough to work with at this point, have a very specific vision. They’re all about breaking it into moments, and solving those moments, and that leads to the next moment. So even though the scale of it is bigger, it’s not really different from working on anything smaller. Other than, maybe the catering is better. The amenities are better. But that doesn’t work its way into the movie. No one is going to watch Star Wars and think, ‘Oh! those guys got to stay in better trailers.’

While most agree that The Force Awakens was a success, there were some who suggested it was too derivative of A New Hope, the very first Star Wars film. Rumors that these similarities will continue into Episode VIII have flourished, especially considering where The Force Awakens left audiences. Addressing these similarities and a potential shift in tone in the next installment, Driver told Collider that while Episode VIII may have a tonal shift, that doesn’t necessarily mean things are getting darker:

It’s great. It’s similar to how The Empire Strikes Back has a different tone. For that people always go ‘oooh, it’s dark’ but I don’t know that it necessarily is. It’s just different in tone in a way that I think is great and necessary but also very clear. He trusts [that] his audience is ready for nuance and ambiguity. He’s not dumbing anything down for someone and that’s really fun to play.

Driver also had effusive praise for director Rian Johnson (Looper), who directed and wrote Episode VIII. The actor suggests that Johnson’s vision is both clear and complete, and that working with him has allowed Driver to understand his own character even better:

Maybe this is just me thinking of myself, but I’m surprised [because] in their shoes I’d be way more stressed out than [J.J. and Rian] seem to be. Rian is coming into something that we kind of set up and he just took it to the next level in a really great way. He wrote it, too, and Rian’s writing is so clear. I learned a lot of things about my character through his writing. Some things we talked about before and some things we didn’t. He was working on [the script] while we were still working on the first one. To understand what J.J. was doing and take ownership from there is kind of a remarkable thing. And he’s the most polite, unassuming guy and he was appropriately territorial about some things but would still be the first to admit when something’s not working. A lot of times you need to rise to understand what the script is, and perhaps I’m beginning to be unclear, but he’s a great person to work with.

Episode VIII is still more than a year away, but we may get our first look well in advance. After all, the first trailer for The Force Awakens debuted late in 2014, more than a year before the film was released—Episode VIII may follow suit. If not, at least we have these Rogue One trailers to hold us over. Star Wars: Episode VIII is set to hit theaters on December 15, 2017.

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