Johnson has had a tough go of it since The Last Jedi was released in 2017. The film divided fans, with audiences seemingly breaking up into those that loved it and those that hated it.
The Last Jedi director has spoken on the film's reactions plenty in the time since, saying that while there are "great, genuine [interactions]" with audiences over the Star Wars epic, there is also a lot of "bad stuff" that has come with it.
But now, nearly five years post-release, Johnson has spoken up on the subject, sharing that he harbors some frustration with a few misconceptions about his time at Lucasfilm.
Rian Johnson Frustrated over The Last Jedi Discourse
Speaking with The New Yorker for his new film Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson opened up about his Star Wars experience.
In response to a question asking if the divided (and at times toxic) discourse surrounding The Last Jedi had tainted his franchise fandom, Johnson said, "I think I love Star Wars even more now," noting that he becomes "frustrated" by the false notion that he had a negative experience:
"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."
The filmmaker said that he "actually [loves] talking about the film," despite initially calling the backlash "incredibly painful."
According to Johnson, "everybody can like whatever they want," with "arguing about other people’s opinions" sort of being "the bread and butter" of the Star Wars fan experience:
"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.'"
He did say though that no matter what, someone working on a Star Wars film is "going to come out the other end different," but, contrary to popular belief, that has not made him love the series any less.
The Knives Out director then went into his connection with his father and his movie-making career, remembering that his Dad passed "right before [he] was offered [The Last Jedi]."
He lamented that he actually gave his father "a little part in [his 2012 film] Looper” and looked back on him being "so joyful" seeing his son work on a movie set:
"He did. I gave him a little part in 'Looper,'where he got to be shot in the face by Bruce Willis. He was so joyful. I don’t want to make it overly dramatic; it was not like we had some great Shakespearean schism or something, but I feel like we really connected as adults once I started making movies. And, once he could be a part of that, I think that’s kind of where my adult relationship with him was forged."
Johnson's Star Wars fandom, he revealed, was very much thanks to his father, who he remembers "putting [him] in the car to go see Star Wars" as a child, making the whole Last Jedi experience "bittersweet" with his dad never getting to be a part of that with him:
"Oh, no, not at all. There was zero of that. No, he was just so overjoyed. He was like a little kid. My first movie memory is him putting me in the car to go see Star Wars. So the whole Star Wars experience was incredibly tinged by that bittersweetness of 'God, can you imagine if Dad was here?'"
Will Fans Ever Put the Last Jedi Ghost to Rest?
It is nice to see that nearly five years after the release of The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson has seemingly not let the toxic conversation surrounding the film get to him. And it is fascinating to see that this experience has not tainted his love for the franchise and that he is still proud of his work on one of Hollywood's biggest IPs.
After the release of Episode VIII, it was unknown quite what Johnson thought of the galaxy far, far away. The conversation quickly turned away from the supposed new trilogy coming from him, to the filmmaker doing other projects like Knives Out.
But knowing that he still possesses a deep love for the Lucasian canon is a good sign. After what felt like years of silence, Johnson has recently started taking questions about Star Wars again, even noting that he and Lucasfilm are "still talking about" the previously announced new trilogy from the director.
Johnson has more than proven that he is ready to put these misconceptions to bed about his time with Star Wars, so now it is up to fans to do the same.
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi can be streamed now on Disney+.