During a recent sit down with Collider, Adam Driver discussed the script for Star Wars: Episode VIII, comparing it to The Empire Strikes Back.
Working with a new director: “Maybe this is just me thinking of myself, but I’m surprised [because] in their shoes I’d be way more stressed out than [J.J. and Rian] seem to be. Rian is coming into something that we kind of set up and he just took it to the next level in a really great way. He wrote it, too, and Rian’s writing is so clear. I learned a lot of things about my character through his writing. Some things we talked about before and some things we didn’t. He was working on [the script] while we were still working on the first one. To understand what J.J. was doing and take ownership from there is kind of a remarkable thing. And he’s the most polite, unassuming guy and he was appropriately territorial about some things but would still be the first to admit when something’s not working. A lot of times you need to rise to understand what the script is, and perhaps I’m beginning to be unclear, but he’s a great person to work with.”
The script for the sequel: “It’s great. It’s similar to how The Empire Strikes Back has a different tone. For that people always go “oooh, it’s dark” but I don’t know that it necessarily is. It’s just different in tone in a way that I think is great and necessary but also very clear. He trusts [that] his audience is ready for nuance and ambiguity. He’s not dumbing anything down for someone and that’s really fun to play.”
On the energy on set compared to the last film: “The stakes are even higher, I think. No one’s relaxing. Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I didn’t feel more relaxed as if we’d accomplished anything. It’s one more reason we have to redouble our efforts and just make it even more specific, but then you also have to let it all go and not think too much while you’re working on it. It’s the same thing you do when you’re working on something like Jim (Jarmusch’s) movie, too.
I think I said something like this to you last year, but I remember being very overwhelmed by the idea of working on something [like this] where the scale was so big. I remember calling J.J. and saying, “I’m overwhelmed by the machine of it” and him basically saying that we’ll break it down into pieces and solve it in these little moments. One moment will lead to this moment and then that moment will lead to this moment and at the end of it hopefully we’ll have a movie. Of course, that’s like working with anything. The scale is bigger, and obviously the catering and the trailers are better when compared to a smaller independent movie, but that doesn’t matter. You’re not watching a movie thinking about how they had really great trailers, or about their catering, you’re trying to follow these moments and follow these characters. So working on it, even though the scale is different, the approach to making it is the exact same. And I feel like I’ve been lucky working with J.J. and Rian, who are two people who get that instinctually.
It’s not my job to worry about the bigger picture or what it means or try to appease a certain group of people. It’s my job to read the script, be prepared, and be generous to the other people that I’m acting with in order to tell the best version of the story that Rian came up with. Then whatever it means and whatever meaning people attach to it, by that point it’s not my responsibility.”