‘Star Wars’ is well on its way to developing a reputation as a turbulent place for directors in the post-George Lucas era. Perhaps the highest profile directorial changeup came last year, when Phil Lord and Chris Miller were handed their walking papers after completing several months of filming for ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story‘. But the list also includes Josh Trank, who was fired from an unspecified anthology film after taking a flamethrower to his career on the set of ‘Fantastic 4’, and most recently, Colin Trevorrow, who had been set to write and direct ‘Episode IX’ until he was abruptly fired and replaced with J.J. Abrams last summer.
Now, a new piece in the Wall Street Journal is offering us some fresh insight into the directorial drama surrounding the ‘Star Wars’ franchise. Though it primarily focuses on ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’, the article saved a few column inches for ‘Episode IX’. When Colin Trevorrow was first tapped to helm ‘Episode IX’, it was on the strength of his work on ‘Jurassic World‘ (for which he was in turn hired in part because of a recommendation Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy made to ‘Jurassic’ producer Frank Marshall after seeing ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’). Despite a successful pitch to Kennedy and the relevant Disney execs, Trevorrow was unable after several drafts, to produce a script that satisfied both Kennedy and himself. The solution? For ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ co-writer Jack Thorne to take a pass at the script. Unfortunately, neither Trevorrow nor Kennedy was satisfied with Thorne’s version. Trevorrow then asked to take another shot at the script, though she would ultimately fire him instead.
There may also have been some personal issues at play. Speaking to Vulture in the wake of Trevorrow’s exit last year, an anonymous source intimated that Trevorrow was in fact dismissed because he was difficult to work with. The source, who Vulture identifies only as one with “direct knowledge of the productions on both ‘The Book of Henry’ and ‘Jurassic World’,” described the situation thusly:
“During the making of ‘Jurassic World’, he focused a great deal of his creative energies on asserting his opinion. But because he had been personally hired by Spielberg, nobody could say “You’re fired.” Once that film went through the roof and he chose to do ‘Henry’, [Trevorrow] was unbearable. He had an egotistical point of view – and he was always asserting that. When the reviews for ‘Book of Henry’ came out, there was immediately conjecture that Kathy was going to dump him because they weren’t thrilled with working with him anyway. He’s a difficult guy. He’s really, really, really confident. Let’s call it that.”
Suffice to say, the Wall Street Journal paints rather a rosier picture, but it is very much possible for both to be true. After all, ‘The Book of Henry’ wasn’t so much a bomb as a stillbirth, both critically and commercially. And as they say, in Hollywood you’re only has good as your last movie. Between the script problems and the alleged difficulties in working with Trevorrow, this crack in the director’s armor may well have provided Kennedy felt she needed to simply cut her losses and find someone else.
We should also not ignore the possibility that Trevorrow was simply too hard to work with and the script concerns were simply a fig leaf to cover the real reason for his dismissal. In any case, the film is still deep in pre-production. While any of these scenarios are entirely plausible, we likely won’t know the full story for years, if ever.
Be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more on ‘Episode IX’ and other upcoming ‘Star Wars’ film and television projects as it becomes available!