During the interview with Rolling Stone, J.J. Abrams opened up about reading Johnson’s screenplay for the first time:
“When I read his first draft, it made me laugh because I saw that was his take and his voice. I got to watch cuts of the movie as he was working on it, as an audience member. And I appreciated the choices he made as a filmmaker that would probably be very different from the choices that I would have made. Just as he would have made different choices if he had made ‘Episode VII.'”
“The Force Awakens” ended with Rey (Daisy Ridley) embarking on a journey to find the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who isolated himself from the rest of the galaxy not long after Ben Solo (Adam Driver) became Kylo Ren. It was unanimously expected that Rey would train with Luke, and a follow-up to Abrams’ film would be a perfect parallel to “The Empire Strikes Back.” However, instead of the boyish and optimistic Luke fans know and love, Johnson gave us a Luke that was colder and cynical — one that was ashamed of his past and embittered by the endless struggle against the dark side.
Abrams described how he felt about reading Luke’s characterization for the first time:
“I felt the biggest surprise was how dark Luke was. That was the thing that I thought: ‘Oh, that was unexpected.’ And that’s the thing ‘The Last Jedi’ undeniably succeeds at, which is constant subversion of expectation. The number of things that happened in that movie that aren’t the thing you think is going to happen is pretty fun.”