Last Jedi Director Rian Johnson on Why It's Important for Star Wars to Be Funny

Image: Lucasfilm
Image: Lucasfilm

Maybe it’s because there’s a quasi-religious spiritual energy at the heart of the mythos, but people tend to be very serious about Star Wars. But the movies, TV shows, books, and other creations have a long, important history of memorable humor and Rian Johnson thinks it’s a vital part of the franchise.


In an interview on the official Star Wars site, a talk about porgs segues into Johnson discussing how much humor is in The Last Jedi:

...there’s a lot of just oddness in the film, and there’s a lot of humor in the movie. I mean, we have jokes. We have flat-out jokes in the film. [Laughs] We have funny creatures. I think the part of the fan base that’s closer to my age, you tend to start thinking of what you’d want in a Star Wars movie in terms of the opera of it, and the seriousness of it. That’s a big and important element of it and I think we definitely served that in this movie, but it’s important to then remember, you know, Salacious Crumb [Laughs], and it’s important to remember the other side of these movies, which is fun.

As seen in neo-noir mystery Brick and time-travel flick Looper, Johnson’s oeuvre has been great about mixing comedy into high-stakes drama. And for those who think the Star Wars films shouldn’t include humor, Johnson recalled that particularly entertaining scene from The Empire Strikes Back “where Yoda is just messing with” Luke. Some levity is a good thing, especially when the fate of the galaxy is involved.




I thought the original trilogy had a lot of funny moments in it. They were all, for lack of a better term, built-in. The back-and-forth between R2-D2 and C3PO fit their characters. C3PO freaking out during the trash compactor seen worked well. All the funny bits fit the situation and the characters well.

The prequel trilogy, on the other hand, had humor that seemed to be ‘tacked on’ for sake of doing something funny. Most of Jar Jar’s antics seemed to be included solely for sake of entertaining kids. The fart joke. Etc. Very little of it seemed to fit the situations or the characters that well.