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When taking on a gargantuan task like directing a Star Wars movie, one could assume it’s going to be overwhelming. A film with so many moving parts, so much pressure, and that carries such a high level of fan anticipation can run the risk of collapsing into itself. Surely, there are many big-budget blockbusters that get so bogged down by how “big” they are that they lose any real semblance of story or character and are basically just infomercials for toys. But according to Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, what surprised him most was how small the movie is.

While talking to Empire Magazine, Johnson was asked what the biggest surprise he encountered while prepping and filming Star Wars: The Last Jedi was. Here’s what he said:

“I guess the biggest surprise was the intimacy of the process. It’s huge, sure, and it’s filled with pressures great and small. But at the end of the day, it boils down to the same things as the smaller films we’ve made: telling a story we care about with a camera and some actors.

And a Wookiee.”

It’s true, after all, that the best Star Wars films have been the ones that put the focus on the story and the characters. One of the many complaints people had about the Prequel Trilogy was that George Lucas was so focused on the technical aspects of those movies that he didn’t bother to tell great stories filled with relatable characters. Surely, what people loved about the Original Trilogy was that, while they were technical marvels, they never stopped being about fascinating characters on an exciting adventure.

It sounds like Johnson appreciated that he was able to stick to those core values while working on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and didn’t have a studio breathing down his neck to make things bigger and more blockbuster-y. 

 Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes out on December 15.

SOURCE: Empire Magazine (via CinemaBlend)