rian johnson smartless

Rian Johnson

Rian Johnson, born December 17, 1973, in Maryland, is a distinguished American filmmaker known for his innovative storytelling and unique visual style. Johnson's interest in filmmaking began during his childhood, nurtured by an extensive use of his parents' camcorder. He honed his skills at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where he crafted his first short film, "Evil Demon Golfball from Hell!!!", which garnered attention for its creativity. Johnson's breakthrough came with the 2005 neo-noir mystery film "Brick," which he wrote and directed. The film, notable for its distinct dialogue and atmospheric setting, won the Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision at the Sundance Film Festival. He followed this success with "The Brothers Bloom" (2008) and the critically acclaimed sci-fi film "Looper" (2012). His most notable work includes directing and writing "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" (2017), which became a major commercial success and a topic of extensive debate among fans. Johnson's approach to the iconic franchise was both praised and criticized for its bold narrative choices. Apart from film, he has ventured into television, directing episodes of the acclaimed series "Breaking Bad." His episode "Ozymandias" is considered one of the best in the series. Johnson's style is characterized by his preference for complex characters, intricate plots, and subverting genre conventions, making him a standout voice in modern cinema.

Exploring the Genius of Rian Johnson: A Deep Dive into the “SmartLess” Podcast

Renowned filmmaker Rian Johnson, celebrated for his innovative storytelling and cinematic mastery, was recently featured on the “SmartLess” podcast. Hosted by Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes, this engaging conversation offers a glimpse into Johnson’s creative mind, his journey in the film industry, and his experiences directing some of the most iconic films of our time.

Early Days and Inspirations

The podcast kicks off with light-hearted banter among the hosts, delving into Johnson’s early inspirations. Johnson, known for his films like “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Knives Out,” shares his initial draw to the world of filmmaking. Interestingly, it wasn’t a singular movie but a blend of influences that shaped his directorial vision. From Amblin movies to the works of Fellini, Scorsese, and the Coen brothers, his formative years were a melting pot of cinematic genius, shaping his unique storytelling style.

The Craft of Directing

Johnson’s approach to directing is as intricate as it is fascinating. He discusses the nuanced art of blending camera work with storytelling, citing the Coen Brothers and Sam Raimi among his influences. His method isn’t about capturing a script but elevating it, creating an immersive experience for the audience. He reflects on the balance between making something complex yet digestible, ensuring viewers are on a journey rather than lost in a maze of plot points.

“Star Wars” and Beyond

Delving into his time directing “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Johnson reveals the surprising autonomy he had in the creative process, likening the experience to making an indie film. He shares the thrill of working with John Williams and the emotional resonance of bringing Luke Skywalker’s story to a poignant conclusion. Johnson’s recount of the process underscores his respect for the franchise’s legacy and his commitment to adding his unique chapter to its epic saga.

Future Ventures and Personal Reflections

As the conversation winds down, Johnson touches on his future projects and personal interests. His passion for sci-fi is evident as he hints at potential future endeavors in the genre. Moreover, his candid revelation about playing Pokémon Go and his love for independent video games adds a relatable and humanizing layer to his persona.

The Art of Cinematic Storytelling: Rian Johnson on the “SmartLess” Podcast

Continuing the enlightening conversation with Rian Johnson on the “SmartLess” podcast, hosts Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes delve deeper into Johnson’s remarkable journey and his approach to filmmaking. This section of the podcast reveals more about Johnson’s personal life, his thoughts on various cinematic elements, and his experiences directing high-profile projects.

The Personal Side of Rian Johnson

Johnson’s conversation takes a turn towards the personal as he shares the charming story of how he met his wife, Karina Longworth, known for her “You Must Remember This” podcast. The anecdote about their first meeting at a Q&A in New Jersey, surrounded by an audience of seniors, adds a relatable and endearing layer to Johnson’s persona. Their online interactions and eventual real-life connection in Los Angeles offer a glimpse into the filmmaker’s life beyond the camera.

Inspirations and Aspirations

The discussion shifts back to cinema as Johnson reflects on the movie “Annie Hall” and its influence on his desire to become a director. He candidly discusses the evolution of his inspirations, from Amblin movies and “Star Wars” to the works of Fellini, Scorsese, and the Coen brothers. Johnson’s journey underscores the significance of varied influences in shaping a filmmaker’s vision.

The Craft of Filmmaking

Delving into the technical aspects of directing, Johnson shares his admiration for filmmakers like the Coen Brothers and Sam Raimi and their ability to elevate material through camera work. He emphasizes the importance of creating an immersive experience for the audience, blending the script with visual storytelling. The conversation also touches on his work on “Breaking Bad,” where he directed three episodes, highlighting his versatility and ability to adapt to different storytelling formats.

Navigating Hollywood’s Landscape

Johnson’s path wasn’t straightforward, as he reveals his initial rejections from USC Film School. His persistence and unique approach eventually led to his acceptance, illustrating the challenges and triumphs of pursuing a creative career. He also discusses the value of making connections in film school and the importance of a support network in the industry.

Continued Creative Endeavors

As the conversation progresses, Johnson shares his ongoing love for the sci-fi genre and hints at potential future projects. His passion for both filmmaking and gaming, along with his candid admission of playing Pokémon Go, paints a picture of a multifaceted individual balancing intense creativity with everyday interests.

The Cinematic World Through Rian Johnson’s Eyes: Insights from the “SmartLess” Podcast

In the concluding part of the “SmartLess” podcast, hosts Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes continue their in-depth conversation with Rian Johnson, peeling back the layers of his creative process, personal life, and thoughts on the ever-evolving world of cinema.

A Personal Touch in Filmmaking

Johnson shares more about his personal journey, from the heartwarming story of how he met his wife, Karina Longworth, to his formative years filled with filmmaking with friends. These anecdotes paint a picture of a filmmaker deeply rooted in personal experience and relationships, emphasizing the importance of a supportive network in the creative industry.

The Evolution of Inspirations

The conversation turns to Johnson’s early inspirations and how they evolved over time. He discusses his love for “Annie Hall,” which sparked his desire to become a director, and his admiration for other filmmakers like the Coen Brothers and Sam Raimi. His journey reflects the dynamic nature of inspiration and how various influences can shape a creative vision over time.

Challenges and Triumphs in Hollywood

Johnson candidly shares his initial rejections from USC Film School and the persistence that eventually led to his acceptance. This story highlights the challenges creatives often face and the importance of perseverance and passion in overcoming them. He also touches on the value of film school, not just for the education but for the connections and community it fosters.

The World of Sci-Fi and Future Projects

As the conversation progresses, Johnson expresses his ongoing love for sci-fi and teases potential future projects in the genre. He discusses the unique challenges and opportunities in creating sci-fi narratives and how they allow for a blend of different genres and innovative storytelling.

The Star Wars Experience

Delving into his experience directing “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Johnson reveals the surprising autonomy he had and compares it to making an indie film. He shares anecdotes about working with the legendary John Williams and the emotional impact of bringing Luke Skywalker’s story to a powerful conclusion. His reflections on “Star Wars” showcase his deep respect for the franchise and his desire to contribute a meaningful chapter to its legacy.


The final part of Rian Johnson’s appearance on the “SmartLess” podcast offers a comprehensive look at his career, creative process, and personal life. From his early inspirations to his future aspirations, Johnson’s journey is a testament to the power of storytelling and the enduring impact of cinema. As the conversation concludes, listeners are left with a deeper understanding of the man behind some of the most compelling films of our time and a sense of anticipation for what he will create next.