When Lucasfilm confirmed last week that Colin Trevorrow was out as the director of Star Wars: Episode IX, it didn’t take long to ask the logical followup question: Who would replace him?
Rumors ran rampant that Rian Johnson or J.J. Abrams, directors of The Last Jedi and The Force Awakens respectively, were in the running for the position. There wasn’t any evidence backing the rumor, but it made sense. If the choice was between going with a director that Lucasfilm CEO Kathleen Kennedy had already worked with and trusted, or placing a bet on a newer talent, Johnson and Abrams looked pretty good.
While Abrams may not be out of the question, Johnson has addressed the rumors. Johnson was asked about the rumors during a trip to Japan and said it was never discussed beforehand.
“It was never in the plan for me to direct Episode IX,” Johnson said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with it. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with it. I was entirely focused on Episode VIII and having this experience and now I’m just thinking about putting the movie out there and seeing how the audience responds to it. So now I’m not really thinking about that right now.
“Whoever does it, I’m going to be really excited to be an audience member again and to see what the next filmmaker has to show us.”
Johnson never explicitly says he’s not in talks to direct the project, so don’t count him out entirely just yet. Abrams is also still a possibility. Naturally, there is always a chance that another director who hasn’t worked with Kennedy or on a Star Wars project will be brought on. It’s only a matter of time before Lucasfilm announces who the next director is; when Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired from the untitled Han Solo project, Ron Howard was announced as the replacement two days later.
Since Episode IX isn’t currently filming, there is some leeway for Lucasfilm to find a new director. If the studio wants to meet the May 2019 deadline, however, that director will have to be found soon.
The next installment in the Star Wars saga, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, will be released on Dec. 15.