Rian Johnson Casts Doubt on Directing Star Wars: Episode IX

Last week brought the somewhat surprising news that Colin Trevorrow has departed the in-development Star Wars: Episode IX, and with it came a question mark of who would fill in behind the camera. Since then, it was revealed that The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson was one of the top choices to take over the film, with Johnson himself having previously said he would love to helm another Star Wars film in the future.

Now, however, Johnson has seemingly taken himself out of the running, revealing at a press conference in Japan that he will not step in.

“It was never in the plan for me to direct Episode IX, so I don’t know what’s going to happen with it. For me, I was entirely focused on Episode VIII and having this experience. Now I’m just thinking about putting the movie out there and seeing how audiences respond to it. So no, I’m not really thinking about that right now…Whoever does it, I’m going to be really excited to be an audience member again, and to sit down and see what the next filmmaker has to show us and where this story ends up going.”

In addition, at the same press event, Johnson revealed that his frequent collaborator Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who has appeared in all three of his previous films, will provide a voice for an alien in the film. Johnson called the role a “a very brief little thing, but it’s fun,” saying if fans listen closely they’ll hear him in the final cut. You can watch Johnson’s answers at the press conference in the player below (via Star Wars News Net).

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is written and directed by Johnson (Brick, Looper) and continues the storylines introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, welcoming back cast members Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, the late Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Domhnall Gleeson as Hux, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, and Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke. New cast members will include Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro, Academy Award nominee Laura Dern, and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran as Rose.

The sequel is produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Jason McGatlin, and Tom Karnowski. Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in regular and IMAX theaters on December 15, 2017.