One of The Force Awakens' many, many standouts was Adam Driver's surprising performance as Kylo Ren.
While we all expected him to play it like a young Darth Vader, Driver gave the character an incredible amount of vulnerability and humanity that made it all the more frightening. Many compared it to, well, an emo teenager - but the truth is that there was much more going on with his performance than just playing it like a petulant child.
While we're still a long way off from Episode VIII - 456 days as of writing - Driver's been talking up both Rian Johnson's script and Rian Johnson himself. In a recent interview with Collider, Driver spoke about Johnson's script and the differences in tone between The Force Awakens and the as-yet untitled 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."
That's an interesting point about the comparison to The Empire Strikes Back. While you might read this and think that they're just doing rehashing it the same way The Force Awakens was rehashing A New Hope, there's a bit more to it than that. It's about the change in tone, not that it's a copy of Empire Strikes Back.
As we mentioned previously, they can't reasonably give us another rehash of the same story, how could they? It has to keep the momentum up and move in a new direction instead of just going over what came before.
Speaking of what came before, Driver also spoke about how Rian Johnson was stepping in behind JJ Abrams and the problems with that. "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."
Again, talking about how Rian Johnson's taking ownership says to us that this isn't going to be another retread and that it'll move in a new direction. Episode VIII is slated for an Irish release of December 17th, 2017.