Certain actors and directors like to work together often, whether it’s Tim Burton and Johnny Depp or Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese. Another one of those pairs is Rian Johnson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who go back to the beginning of Johnson’s career and reunited in Star Wars.
Indeed, the actor has appeared in all of Johnson’s features to one extent or another. Sometimes it’s a prominent role, other times it’s only the sound of his voice. Whatever the case, he’s there just as surely as John Ratzenberger appears in a Pixar movie.
How did Rian Johnson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt meet?
Johnson and Gordon-Levitt collaborated on Johnson’s first feature film Brick. In that 2005 film, Gordon-Levitt plays the lead role of Brendan Frye, who gets a call from his frightened ex-girlfriend begging him for help. When she disappears, Brendan investigates a strange high school crime ring. Per IMDB, That film won a prize at the Sundance Film Festival, launching Johnson’s career.
Johnson’s next movie was the whimsical caper The Brothers Bloom with Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel Weisz, and this is where Gordon-Levitt gets hard to spot, playing a bar patron. He returned to a front and center role with Looper, the sci-fi thriller where Gordon-Levitt has to contend with killing an older version of himself, played by Bruce Willis.
That film led to Johnson getting The Last Jedi, and this was another hard-to-find role. He’s the voice of Slowen Ro, an alien who tangles with Finn and Rose about their lousy parking. The actor again lent his voice to Johnson’s most recent film, Knives Out, where he’s the voice of Detective Hardrock.
What other famous people had cameos in Star Wars?
Joseph-Gordon-Levitt is hardly the only celebrity to make a cameo in a Star Wars movie. The Wrap has a list of these, with many intriguing finds. Some of these are small roles taken by actors before they were famous, such as John Ratzenberger’s part as a Rebel on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back, or Keira Knightley’s role as one of Padme’s doubles in The Phantom Menace.
Other times there are small roles from well-known figures. Sofia Coppola took all kinds of flack for her performance in The Godfather Part III before she became a director, but her father, Francis Ford Coppola, was a mentor to George Lucas, so Lucas gave Sofia a role as another of Padme’s handmaidens. Future Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) also pops up in the ending celebration of Phantom Menace.
The Disney-produced films have their share of cameos too. Daniel Craig shows up as the stormtrooper who taunts Rey in The Force Awakens. Taking a cue from Craig, Tom Hardy is one of the stormtroopers in a deleted scene from The Last Jedi. And Johnson himself has a cameo in Rogue One as one of the gunner crew.
Is the Rian Johnson Star Wars trilogy still happening?
One of the big questions surrounding the Star Wars franchise is whether Johnson will continue with it. Before The Last Jedi came out, Lucasfilm planned to make a trilogy with Johnson unrelated to the Skywalker saga. Then, when The Last Jedi came out in 2017, it sharply divided fandom, with many people flat-out hating it.
Although Johnson said the project was still in the works, it seemed he was more interested in working on a follow-up to his hit murder mystery, Knives Out. However, several recent media reports have suggested his trilogy is still happening. Coming Soon quotes Johnson telling a USA Today reporter that the trilogy is still moving forward, although there are no dates or timelines.
Would Johnson be willing to submit himself to Star Wars fans who still harbor a grudge? If he does, Gordon-Levitt will almost certainly be along for the ride somewhere.
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