He doesn’t give away much – when does he ever give away much? – but this brief catch up between Entertainment Tonight‘s Ash Crossan and Episode IX director J.J. Abrams at the 14th Annual Oscar Wilde Awards at Bad Robot does mark the first time we’ve heard him speak in public about the film since completing principal photography.
“It was actually a pretty emotional thing. The cast and crew just did an unbelievable job. I can’t wait for you to see what we’ve got going for you.”
A very pertinent question, especially given J.J’s entries in the trilogy bookend the Rian Johnson directed Episode VIII – did the reaction to The Last Jedi change the way he approached Episode XI?
“No. I think that every movie is its own movie and obviously this is a trilogy. We brought to [IX] all the passion and hard work that we would have no matter what. I think the story speaks for itself. I really, truly can’t wait for you to see it.”
We can claim a small hand in the next question, how was it directing Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian?
“I’d met him once before and he was such a sweet guy, but I gotta tell you, I have such unbelievable respect for him. We had a great time. He was wonderful, he just had this aura about him. He’s really an incredible man and an incredible actor. “
He has a huge task ahead of him, not least wrapping up the trilogy to a satisfactory conclusion, much like Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith did 36 and 14 years ago respectively. Has he succeeded?
“You’ll have to determine that for yourself. I really can’t wait for you to see it, and there are a lot of words that we all hope you’ll feel. Obviously, the biggest and most important one is ‘satisfied.’”
He still has many months of work ahead completing the film in the editing suite, VFX, sound, the final John Williams score but it’s reaffirming to hear how confident he is in the work done thus far.