In the latest round of Star Wars news, Rian Johnson is said to be directing Episode VIII, ie the one that comes after the one that Jj Abrams is currently filming. According to Deadline the director will be taking the reins after Abrams and will then go on to script the third instalment Episode IX. For some ,the appointment of Johnson is an interesting and welcome curveball from the Star Wars team, but for those of us not too up on who’s hot in the directing world the announcement was met with a resounding, who? So if you’re finding yourself in the latter category let’s get to know Mr Johnson a little bit better before he takes on his most important directing gig yet and undoubtedly becomes a household name.

Rian JohnsonMeet Rian Johnson, the next Star Wars director

Born in Maryland but raised in California, 40 year old Rian Johnson counts Annie Hall as his movie making inspiration. After attending the University of Southern California and then graduating from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Johnson made his directorial debut in 1996 with the short film, Evil Demon Golfball from Hell!!! Loosely based on Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, the 8 minute short featured a man tormented by a golf ball. Johnson then followed up with two more short films, Ben Boyer and the Phenomenology of Automobile Branding and The Psychology of Dream Analysis.

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In 2005, Johnson came to critical recognition thanks to Brick, his feature length directorial debut. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Johnson wrote and directed the thriller which would go on to win the Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. The film was made with a budget of under $500,000 and took just under $4million at the worldwide box office, going on to become regarded as a modern ‘cult classic’.

Johnson’s second feature, The Brother’s Bloom was released in 2008 and made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival. A marked departure from Brick, the caper comedy starring Adrien Brody and Rachel Weisz earned mostly positive reviews from critics, but only managed to take just over $5million at the box office, despite a sizeable budget. Still, Johnson's star would continue to ascend thanks to his next project which would see him make the leap to small screen, directing three episodes of the critically acclaimed series ‘Breaking Bad’. Johnson’s three outings, ‘Fly’, ‘Fifty-One’ and Ozymandias’, would become stand outs of the already lauded series and see the director honoured by the Director’s Guild of America for the episodes.

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While Johnson had so far been no stranger to critical acclaim, his next big screen outing would see his profile raised even further. Looper, starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, was also written by Johnson. Set in 2074, the sci-fi thriller earned praise for its originality and intelligence and holds an impressive 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film would receive nominations for a range of critical awards including four Saturn Awards and a nod from the Writer’s Guild of America for best screenplay.

Star WarsBefore Johnson takes the reins, we first need Episode VII

There’s no doubt that Johnson is a talented writer and director, who certainly has the imagination required to take on Star Wars. If he can make the franchise’s fourth and fifth instalment anywhere near as exciting and innovative as Looper, then fans can rest assured that the future of Star Wars is in safe hands. Now might be the time for Star Wars fans to start rejoicing, it looks like Rian Johnson could just be the hero we’ve all been waiting for.