When you’re a director and your movie opens in theaters, it’s a stressful time. You’re wondering if people are going to like it, if audiences will respond to it, if folks will understand what you were trying to say. Multiply that times 1,000 and you start to kind of understand what it’s like to be releasing not just any movie, but a Star Wars movie. When Star Wars: The Last Jedi hit theaters, it had already screened for press and received positive reviews, but writer/director Rian Johnson knew he also had fans at large to consider—which was a little nerve-wracking given some of the intense choices he made in the movie.
As we all know, there was a vocal contingent of “Last Jedi haterz” online that proceeded to hurl tweets at Johnson telling him he ruined their childhood, had burned down Star Wars, etc. (on a side note: please don’t threaten directors. It’s very uncool). Now I’m not talking about those that simply disagreed with the movie’s take—that’s fine, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. But quite a few folks took it upon themselves to throw really ugly insults and comments Johnson’s way, which is dumb.
Johnson took the criticism very professionally, not really engaging with the trolls who had only extremist/ridiculous things to say to him, and addressing a few points of criticism by simply explaining his point of view as best he could. TL;DR Rian Johnson did not set out to ruin Star Wars, he was simply trying to tell the best and most interesting version of the story he wanted to tell.
But appearing on the /Filmcast (via The Playlist) for a lengthy chat about The Last Jedi with host Dave Chen, Johnson spoke a bit more about that initial “backlash” and how it affected him. The Looper director explains that in the moment, since this was all on social media, he had no context for these intense reactions:
“The crazy thing is, I had no perspective on these tweets. I had no perspective in terms of how big a group of people this was, even what they were upset about specifically. Over the next few weeks, I was able to contextualize it and feel much better about it. But at the time, I thought, ‘Oh my God, does everybody hate this? Did I totally mess up, was I wrong?’ And I had a very dark hour of the soul…because I had no context for this.”
Again, Johnson’s only human, and hearing some angry negative reactions to a movie you poured your heart and soul into can’t be fun. But the filmmaker says that even with the criticisms, nobody’s made a point that would have altered his approach to the movie:
“There’s nothing I’ve read or seen that’s made me think, ‘Oh god, I did kind of mess that up, I would’ve done that differently if I could go back. I still genuinely believe in all the decisions I’ve made.”