rian johnson"Star Wars: Episode VII" still feels light years away from its December 2015 release, but that doesn't mean that Rian Johnson, just picked to write and direct its sequel, "Episode VIII," isn't already conducting research for his film.

In an interview taped for the Filmspotting podcast, Johnson chatted about his childhood love of the "Star Wars" movies, revealed the cinematic influences he plans on including in the flick, and discussed his unlikely selection as the newest member of the "Star Wars" filmmakers club.

"The thought of it made me so completely joyfully happy," Johnson said of agreeing to the offer to direct "Episode VIII." "I wanted to to play in this world, of literally the first movie my dad put me in the car to see."

The "Looper" director also joked that with his less-well-known pedigree, it must have been "a clerical error" that saw him land the gig, adding, "There's a Brian Johnson out there who is really mad."

Johnson also said that he was already at work on prepping the film, Skyping into the podcast interview from San Francisco, and offered up two films whose tone and style he hopes to emulate in "Episode VIII": "Twelve O'Clock High," a 1949 WWII flick starring Gregory Peck; and "Letter Never Sent," a Russian film from 1959 about geologists who are trapped by a forest fire. Just what connection those flicks will ultimately have to the "Star Wars" universe remain to be seen, though we're guessing Johnson is going for a more loose translation of those flicks, akin to George Lucas's vision for the original "Wars" films as being based on "The Seven Samurai" and old westerns.

Johnson also proved that he knows his "Star Wars" expanded universe history fairly well with his reference to a much-maligned 1978 holiday program featuring the "Wars" characters.

"With these films, I am trying to harken back to the original 'Star Wars' ... Christmas special," he said. "We do have Jefferson Starship."

We'll have to wait and see if Johnson makes good on that promise, but we're already pleased by how excited and passionate he is about the project.

[via: Chicago Sun-Times, h/t The Playlist]

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

categories Movies