After The Book Of Eli‘s Gary Whitta exited the Star Wars standalone movie following a year of hard graft, many wondered who – if anyone – would pick up the mantle. Enter: Chris Weitz, the writer-director with a varied resume ranging from romcom standout About A Boy all the way to fantasy fare like The Golden Compass. Tasked with picking up where Whitta left off, Weitz signed on to commence writing a new draft in late January 2015.
For fans of arguably the biggest franchise EVER, his involvement at such a core level raised several eyebrows. It seems, however, that the enormity of the task isn’t lost on Weitz himself, who addressed the script changes, and his involvement in an interview with /Film:
“Well I think it still is the core,” he said of Whitta’s first draft. “But in terms of…in a weird way, it was like meeting for any assignment. Go in, talk about how you work and talk about the idea, but of course there was A) A huge security component to it. I wasn’t able to see the script until kind of after I was brought on board. And B) I saw Star Wars when I was 7 and it was a formative experience in my life, let alone in the notion of filmmaking.
I’m probably only working on this stuff because I did have that experience then. But it completely possessed me when I was a child and it was a huge part of my kind of emotional make up. So I tried to be as cool as possible in these meetings while still being aware if I got the assignment I was going to be able to work on something I’ve been dreaming of doing.”
He then went on to discuss the nature of joining the project, which already possessed a script:
Um…I mean it all eventually comes down to understanding the nature of what a given film is and making the characters people who you want to be as invested in as possible. I think in this case I’m not working from a whole cloth, right? So there’s a very strong structure from Gary’s work and that’s a huge advantage to me. But just like with Cinderella, it’s a director’s medium so it’s really about my making what Gareth needs to do his film.
Finally, the folks at /Film asked what everyone is thinking: just what should the audience of such a high-profile movie be prepared for?
They need to expect everything because it’s Star Wars. They have to. If I don’t do that I’m failing in my job.
Directed by Gareth Edwards, the first standalone Star Wars movie is currently scheduled for release in December 2016.