'Star Wars' star Domhnall Gleeson on 'Episode IX': 'I'm really happy J.J. is back'

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux in The Last Jedi. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

While a certain segment of Star Wars fandom isn’t pleased as Boonta Eve Punch that J.J. Abrams will helm the still-untitled Episode IX after Colin Trevorrow’s surprise departure, the director of The Force Awakens does have the Force-ful endorsement of one galactic veteran. “I’m really happy J.J. is back,” Domhnall Gleeson tells Yahoo Entertainment while chatting about his role in the upcoming drug-running drama American Made. Of course, the Irish actor — who reprises his Force Awakens role as First Order commander General Hux in the upcoming middle chapter, The Last Jedi — emphasizes to Yahoo Movies that his endorsement shouldn’t be taken as confirmation that Hux will play a role in Abrams’s trilogy-capper, set to hit theaters on Dec. 20, 2019. “They haven’t revealed who is going to be in the third one.”

Having been directed by Abrams once before, Gleeson has firsthand experience with what makes the geek icon a good steward for George Lucas’s creation. “J.J. wasn’t afraid of it,” he says of his time observing Abrams on the set of The Force Awakens. “He worked with Lawrence Kasdan on the script and Kathy Kennedy, and brought an energy to it that was very, very strong. He knew what he was doing and pushed really hard to get what he needed; he’s uncompromising in a nice way. People care deeply about the Star Wars world, but you also have to be able to do your own thing. Otherwise, why is it you making it and not just anyone?”

Gleeson in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

Gleeson says that the director of The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson, also came into Star Wars with a specific vision. And, like the rest of us, he’s still waiting to see what exactly that vision will look like in its finished form. “I’m excited to see the movie myself; I want to see what his Star Wars looks like. I’d obviously read the script, so I understood what he wanted to be different about it, and how his take compared to J.J.’s, but that’s all under wraps until December. I’m certainly not going to be the one to spoil the surprise!”

As a veteran of big franchises like Star Wars and the Harry Potter series, Gleeson has gotten very good at keeping secrets. That skill also came in handy for his role in Darren Aronofsky‘s Mother!, which recently debuted to weak box office and an audience reaction most kindly characterized as “divided.” In the run-up to the movie’s release, Aronofsky ensured that very little information leaked about the movie, which ultimately turned out to be an extended biblical allegory in which Gleeson and his younger brother, Brian, played variations on murderous siblings Cain and Abel.

Domhnall Gleeson attends the U.K. premiere of Mother! (Photo: Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

That information obviously wasn’t hidden from either actor on set, even if audiences weren’t let in on the secret in advance. “I was certainly aware of [the allegory], but you can’t play a metaphor,” Gleeson says. “Brian and I kind of hurricane through that movie in about three minutes, so it was about finding the character, their point of view, and why they’re arguing. You have to play the beats.”

Although he was only on the Mother! set for one week, the actor could tell that the film would provoke an intense reaction from audiences. “I knew it was extreme,” Gleeson says. “It’s certainly abrasive in certain ways, and uncomfortable viewing. But I don’t think it made any promises it hasn’t kept. It’s a very honest film, and he’s dealing with material that really matters to him. When I watched it, the whole audience was lifting out of their seats!”

Watch: Jennifer Lawrence reveals the perils of breastfeeding a robot in Mother!:

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