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Star Wars: Episode VIII feels like The Empire Strikes Back, says Adam Driver

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Plus, director Rian Johnson’s vision for the film

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Kylo Ren costume

Star Wars: Episode VIII is still a year away from being released, but filming on the project has wrapped and cast members have slowly begun to talk about some of the details concerning the project.

In a new interview with Collider, Adam Driver (who plays Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens) talked briefly about the tone of the eighth film, likening it to The Empire Strikes Back. According to Driver, director Rian Johnson has total confidence in Star Wars fans, and thinks they’ll appreciate the difference in tone that he’s bringing to the film in comparison to J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens.

"It’s similar to how The Empire Strikes Back has a different tone," Driver told Collider. "For that people always go ‘oooh, it’s dark’ but I don’t know that it necessarily is.

"He’s not dumbing anything down for someone and that’s really fun to play."

Driver added that despite the success of The Force Awakens, the cast wasn’t taking it easy with Episode VIII and weren’t slinking into comfortability. Instead, he argued, the stakes are higher than ever before. Driver admitted that he was still overwhelmed by the size of Star Wars and said that much like Abrams, Johnson took a piece-by-piece approach to filmmaking that makes it seem a little less daunting.

Official logo for Star Wars: Episode VIII
Disney/Lucasfilm

Speaking at length about working with Johnson, Driver also revealed that he’s learned more than he expected to about Kylo Ren through Johnson’s interpretation of the character. Driver said that he was working on the script while Abrams was shooting The Force Awakens to ensure that their interpretations weren’t too different, but added that there were elements of the characters that Johnson was territorial about.

"To understand what J.J. was doing and take ownership from there is kind of a remarkable thing," Driver said. "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."

Johnson announced that Episode VIII had wrapped filming on July 22. The film, which still hasn’t received a title, will be released Dec. 15, 2017.