Road to the Oscars 2023: Rian Johnson on meeting his personal “Yoda,” James Cameron

Eric Charbonneau/Netflix

Rian Johnson seems to have revived the whodunit genre with his two Knives Out films, most recently with last year’s Glass Onion. He wrote and directed the latest Benoit Blanc mystery and was honored with a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay at this year’s Academy Awards.

As he makes the rounds in the awards circuit, Johnson tells ABC Audio there’s really only one celebrity he has been starstruck by.

“I got to meet James Cameron. Very quickly, very briefly,” Johnson says. “He was so kind, and we had a nice little talk. He’s somebody whose work I’ve just admired, obviously, my entire life and means a lot to me.”

Though their interaction was short, Johnson says he looks forward to the day when he can sit and listen to all the wisdom Cameron would care to share — preferably Luke and Yoda on Dagobah style, à la The Empire Strikes Back.

“If there’s a Yoda that I would love to sit at the feet at for a few hours, I think it’s Cameron,” Johnson says.

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And while Johnson says there’s much to love about Cameron’s work, there’s one thing that stands out.

“Cameron’s secret weapon is he knows his story,” Johnson says. “It’s not about the technical element, it’s about the fact that he’s staying on story and telling the story incredibly clearly even through the action scenes in his movies.”

Just in case there happens to be any doubt about how much of a fan he is — yes, Johnson says he did watch Cameron’s recent Masterclass, where the Avatar director teaches filmmaking for over three hours.

“I watched his Masterclass that he just did,” Johnson says. “That’s how big of a fan [I am]. I’m like, ‘I’ll watch that whole thing.’ It’s so good.”

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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