Rian Johnson was "actively encouraged" to find a story that was "personal" to him for 'The Last Jedi' by Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy.

The 43-year-old filmmaker has helmed the eighth instalment in the 'Star Wars' franchise and he has revealed that during the pre-production stage he felt as though he was "nurtured" and "protected" for coming up with his own ideas for the sci-fi movie by Kennedy - who has also acted as the brand manager for 'Star Wars' since Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012.

Speaking to website io9, Johnson said: "From the very beginning I had a very good relationship with Kathy. It was really collaborative and I felt very protected by her. And beyond the creative freedom I was given to find what the story was going to be, all the folks at Lucasfilm understood how personal the original films were for George Lucas. So [Lucasfilm] actively encouraged me, not allowed me, but actively pushed me to find what was personal about this story for me. To find a story that was personal and would mean something deeply to me. And they nurtured that and protected that. I think the fact we all knew the movie we were making and were excited about it from day [meant] we had a great experience."

'The Last Jedi' sees 'Star Wars' legends Mark Hamill return as Jedi Master Luke Skywalker - who was seen briefly in the 2015 'The Force Awakens' - and the late Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa as the battle between the First Order and Resistance rages on in the galaxy.

Other cast members include Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Lupita Nyong'o (Maz Kanata), Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Andy Serkis (Snoke) and Domhnall Gleeson (General Lux) who are all reprising their roles.

Although Johnson will not be helming 'Episode IX' - which has been passed over to J.J. Abrams who directed 'The Force Awakens' - the filmmaker was recently announced to be working on a brand new trilogy separate from the Skywalker saga.

While promoting 'The Last Jedi' at a press event in Mexico, Johnson said he's only at the "very beginning" of starting the new trilogy.

He said: "We're gonna have to see. I'm just in the very beginning of starting to come up with what the new trilogy is going to be.

"What makes me so excited about it, is the idea of doing a new story on the big canvas of three movies in this world. There's just so much potential and I can't wait to jump into it."

Outbrain