In an interview with Gizmodo, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy goes on the record about the firing of Colin Trevorrow, the first writer / director of Star Wars: Episode IX.
Rumors swirled that Trevorrow was not casting a clear vision in the early stages of the development for the finale and, in addition, was proving abrasive and difficult to work with.
This gossip never made sense to me. Kennedy’s husband Frank Marshall produced Jurassic World, which Trevorrow directed. I’m sure Jurassic overlord Steven Spielberg (who Kennedy produced for from E.T and on) vouched for him, too. She knew exactly who and what she was getting, and it wasn’t someone who was volatile. So why would a reliable franchise filmmaker suddenly flip a switch and burn all of those bridges on the biggest gig of his career? Again, it just doesn’t make sense.
When asked in 2018 about what went wrong, Trevorrow respectfully deferred, not wanting to taint perceptions about how the eventual movie might be perceived (a wise move on his part).
Well now, Kathleen Kennedy is finally talking. Gizmodo reporter Germain Lussier asked Kennedy what it was about Trevorrow’s story that didn’t work. Here’s her answer:
- Well, I wouldn’t say it didn’t work. Colin was at a huge disadvantage not having been a part of Force Awakens and in part of those early conversations because we had a general sense of where the story was going. Like any development process, it was only in the development that we’re looking at a first draft and realizing that it was perhaps heading in a direction that many of us didn’t feel was really quite where we wanted it to go. And we were on a schedule, as we often are with these movies, and had to make a tough decision as to whether or not we thought we could get there in the time or not. And as I said, Colin was at a disadvantage because he hadn’t been immersed in everything that we all had starting out with Episode VII.
Translation: The Book of Henry was a disaster.
Look, she’s not going to come out and say that — nor should she! — but the timing of Trevorrow’s firing in September of 2017 is so clearly a byproduct of the fallout from the critical and box office embarrassment of his passion project The Book of Henry, which tanked in June of that year.
Prior to that film’s release at the beginning of the summer, everything was hunky-dory in Lucasfilm land. But by summer’s end, Trevorrow was suddenly out. And honestly, Lussier pulled a serious punch when he failed to ask Kennedy if The Book of Henry had anything to do with the decision. I’m sure her answer would have been “No” (she’s a professional, after all, and so she’s not going to publically throw another professional under the bus), but the question should’ve been asked directly of her.
The thing that doesn’t quite add up about Kennedy’s response here is that, essentially, Rian Johnson was at the same disadvantage with Episode VIII as Trevorrow was. Johnson wasn’t around for the initial planning of the trilogy. He and J. J. Abrams never had a conversation about how the second film should go. He was given free rein to tell the story that he wanted to tell.
Obviously Trevorrow was given the same freedom. So how does that square with Kennedy’s answer? Well apparently, according to Kennedy’s logic, Johnson worked well from that disadvantage and Trevorrow didn’t. I guess.
The official record about Colin’s firing, as it relates to Henry, will likely always be chalked up to coincidence of timing, but it’s hard to not see it as the primary catalyst if not the outright reason. To the degree that concerns were already brewing about where Episode IX was headed, Henry‘s bomb finally gave Kennedy the out that she was looking for.
At some point in the future, I half expect that Trevorrow’s Episode IX screenplay (which did not include The Emperor!) will be leaked online. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he does it himself, albeit anonymously. I hope somebody does.
I love alt-histories of projects, especially big ones like this, and it would be fascinating to see what Trevorrow had in store — especially considering, as the story goes, that Daisy Ridley instanteneously burst into tears when Trevorrow told her what Rey’s fate would be. Who doesn’t want to know what that was all about?