The Last Jedi opened to rave reviews from critics, but the new Star Wars movie has been much more divisive among general audiences, as while a bunch of fans love the movie, a vocal contingent haaaaate it. But, having fans hate your movie is nothing new for Star Wars directors. Just ask George Lucas about the prequel trilogy. Rian Johnson, the director of The Last Jedi, is feeling really good about the response over all, but he’s aware of the backlash, and he says he knows what it’s like to be Lucas.
“Having been a Star Wars fan my whole life, and having spent most of my life on the other side of the curb and in that fandom, it softens the blow a little bit,” Johnson told Business Insider, explaining that he was able to deal with fan backlash because he was a fan before he was a director.
I’m aware through my own experience that, first of all, the fans are so passionate, they care so deeply — sometimes they care very violently at me on Twitter. But it’s because they care about these things, and it hurts when you’re expecting something specific and you don’t get it from something that you love. It always hurts, so I don’t take it personally if a fan reacts negatively and lashes out on me on Twitter. That’s fine. It’s my job to be there for that. Like you said, every fan has a list of stuff they want a Star Wars movie to be and they don’t want a Star Wars movie to be. You’re going to find very few fans out there whose lists line up
Having said that, Johnson added that he wasn’t setting out to making a movie for fans — and neither was Lucas when he made his Star Wars films.
“I also know the same way the original movies were personal for Lucas. Lucas never made a Star Wars movie by sitting down and thinking, ‘What do the fans want to see?’” Johnson said. “And I knew if I wrote wondering what the fans would want, as tempting as that is, it wouldn’t work, because people would still be shouting at me, ‘Fuck you, you ruined Star Wars,’ and I would make a bad movie. And ultimately, that’s the one thing nobody wants.”
For what it’s worth, Johnson seems to be taking everything in stride much better than Lucas did, although it’s understandable. It’s early, but it’s looking like The Last Jedi will rank far above the prequel trilogy on most people’s lists, and it has much more vocal proponents than any of those films do, even with all the haters. Plus, Lucas has to deal with the extra sting of people ostracized from the franchise he created. All we know about Lucas’s take on The Last Jedi is that he said it was “beautifully made” and was “complimentary” when speaking to Johnson after seeing the flick. Make of that what you will.
The Last Jedi is now in theaters.