We don’t get many leftfield directorial appointments in the world of movies, so Rian Johnson’s Star Wars nod really is something to savour. Johnson will direct Star Wars Episode VIII, and word on the street is that he’ll be working Episode IX, too.

Rian Johnson Rian Johnson big pressure on his hands with two Star Wars movies to direct 

The reaction to Disney and LucasFilm’s decision has been reasonably muted, which should be taken as a positive sign for Johnson. He has a short but impressive CV, including the highly celebrated Brick, his excellent work on the complex, intricate sci-fi thriller Looper and of course, three episodes of Breaking Bad – The Fly, Fifty-One and Ozymandias.

The Fly was a controversial episode, but it shows AMC and Vince Gilligan’s faith in Johnson that they trusted him with such a demanding script. Ozymandias is considered to be one Breaking Bad’s best episodes, and given the show’s Caché, will probably endear him to fans of AMC’s meth drama forever. 

Born in Maryland, Jonhson attended San Clemente High School, which was where Brick was predominatley filmed. The film would announce Johnson to the world; made on a shoestring budget of under $500k, the crime-drama starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the young director proved he make something beyond the sum of its parts. 

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Gordon-Levitt and Johnson would then reunite for Looper – the former a big name star having enjoyed roles in Inception and The Dark Knight Rises, the latter still with something to prove. With a bigger budget and some real star quaity – Bruce Willis also starred – Johnson’s Looper was a critical hit, scoring 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. It also managed $176m from the global box office from a budget of $30m, so it’s not hard to see why studios like him. 

But with Disney, Johnson will have almost unlimited funds at his disposal to carry on Jj Abrams reboot of the legendary sci-fi franchise. And whatever Abrams does – whatever the critical response is – it’s patently clear that Episode VII will have a great chance of grossing $1bn, leading to increased hype – and pressure – for Episode VIII 

Good luck Rian!