Disney and Lucasfilm signed Rian Johnson to write and direct Star Wars: VIII as well as write a treatment for Episode IX in the upcoming film trilogy, according to Deadline.
1. ‘Looper’ Helped Johnson Earn the Trust of Hollywood Studios
Before his 2012 sci-fi, action hit Looper, Johnson had only directed two small films: his debut flick Brick in 2005 and The Brothers Bloom in 2008. Looper earned $176 million at the global box office and placed Johnson on studio short lists around Hollywood, according to The Wrap.
Star Wars going to @rianjohnson is fantastic. A huge talent who started with an indie and then made a fine studio film. See: Lucas, George.
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) June 20, 2014
Johnson acknowledged the great responsibility handed down to him by Disney and Lucasfilm on his Twitter. He tweeted a short clip from another space film The Right Stuff that expressed his sentiments. Watch it below:
2. Debut Film Won a Special Grand Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival
After graduating from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in 1996, Johnson directed three short films. He found success with his first feature-length film Brick in 2005. The movie won the Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005. Watch the trailer above.
He made the high-school set, noir mystery film for under $500,000. It was the director and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s first project together. Johnson followed up Brick with The Brothers Bloom in 2008 that starred Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo. Watch the trailer below.
3. He Directed the Best ‘Breaking Bad’ Episode
Johnson helmed the Breaking Bad season five episode “Ozymandias,” which creator Vince Gilligan considers the best episode ever for the AMC series, according to TV Fanatic.
I tell ya, this next episode, I think for my money, is the best episode we ever had had or ever will have… I think people are going to have trouble breathing after this thing airs. It’s tremendous and it’s a great, great hour of television.
He also directed the third season episode “Fly” (the first time he directed a script that he didn’t write) and the fifth season episode “Fifty-One.” Watch the (spoiler-alert) clip from “Ozymandias” above.
4. ‘Annie Hall’ Inspired His Film Career
In journalist Robert K. Elder’s book The Film That Changed My Life, Johnson credits Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, “a film that broke so many rules in terms of film narrative,” as his inspiration to pursue a film career.
It moved me in a way that very few other films have moved me. That’s something that, I pray to God, if I am able to keep making movies, I can only hope, twenty years down the line maybe, I’ll be able to approach.
5. He Plays the Banjo and Sings Folk Music
When he’s not making films, Johnson makes music with his cousin Nathan Johnson. The two formed a folk band call The Preserves. The director is a folk singer and plays the banjo.