After being hired to direct their very own Star Wars films, it’s fair to say that Gareth Edwards and Rian Johnson felt like the proverbial kids in a candy shop with the cinematic riches that they had at their disposal.
It now turns out that the pair were not only working alongside each other at a certain point, most likely as Gareth Edwards was putting the finishing touches to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and as Rian Johnson was starting on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but that they developed a healthy rivalry with each other, too.
In fact, this rivalry developed into a borderline sibling rivalry, as the pair found themselves poking fun at each other and their films, especially when it came to the anticipation that was surrounding them. During a recent event at BAFTA Cymru to celebrate Saint David’s Day, Gareth Edwards opened up about his work on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
According to The Daily Express this included reliving his rivalry with Rian Johnson, as he admitted that he’d often remind the filmmaker that The Last Jedi will ultimately have to match up to The Empire Strikes Back to be regarded a success.
“Rian Johnson was working while we were working. I would joke with him that his benchmark was The Empire Strikes Back. Like, ‘it’s alright Rian, you just have to be better than Empire Strikes Back!'”
Gareth Edwards didn’t have such a high benchmark to hit with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, though. In fact, he’d regularly remind Rian Johnson that while he had to measure up against the greatest sequel ever made, Edwards only had to better the made-for-TV film Caravan Of Courage: An Ewok Adventure.
“And as the first Star Wars standalone, we had to be better than Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure.”
Gareth Edwards decided to take this gentle ribbing to the next level by actually going out and buying “a giant Ewok Adventure poster” that he hung in his office. However, the joke came back to bite Edwards on the posterior when George Lucas, who created the story and executive produced Caravan Of Courage, came by his office.
“So as a joke, I went and bought a giant Ewok Adventure poster and it was in my office. Then one day George Lucas came over out of the blue, and he comes in and I’m s****ing myself, and its only when he comes in that I remember my Ewok Adventure poster. And I’m like, ‘oh no’, desperately trying to keep his eye.”
Luckily, Gareth Edwards was able to get away with George Lucas either not spotting the poster, or with him spotting it but taking the joke with a very kind-heart. The rivalry between Rian Johnson and Gareth Edwards clearly didn’t get overly heated, too, because Rian Johnson even scored himself a cameo in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Rian Johnson opened up to Empire about playing an Imperial Officer in the Firing Chamber of the Death Star in Rogue One, insisting that what he loved most of all about it was the fact that he knew he couldn’t be cut out of the movie.
“It was so much fun. I was jealous of my producer Ram [Bergman] — he got to wear the full Daft Punk helmet. Also it was great because we knew we couldn’t get cut out of the movie! The ONE THING they absolutely have to do is fire the Death Star!”
We’ll get to see who has the last laugh between Rian Johnson and Gareth Edwards when Star Wars: The Last Jedi is finally released on December 15.
[Featured Image by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images]