Posted on Tuesday, April 28th, 2015 by Peter Sciretta
Many people have wondered how Colin Trevorrow ended up directing Jurassic World. I loved his indie dramedy Safety Not Guaranteed when I saw it at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival (you can read my Sundance review here) but even I didn’t expect that film to launch his career as the director of a mega sequel/reboot the size of Jurassic World.
So how did that happen? The answer might surprise you — Colin Trevorrow got the job after a chain reaction that began with director Brad Bird turning down Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Read the whole Jurassic World Star Wars connection story after the jump.
The Jurassic World Star Wars Connection
Let’s rewind to October 2012: Disney shocked the world by not only purchasing Lucasfilm but announcing that they would be making a new trilogy of Star Wars movies. The first rumors to hit the interwebs had Iron Giant/Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol director Brad Bird as the top choice for Episode VII in the Skywalker saga.
Why Brad Bird Didn’t Direct Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Before we get to the new information, lets take a look back at what Brad Bird has said about being asked to direct Star Wars Episode 7 right as Tomorrowland was about to begin production:
I’ve known Kathy [Kennedy] for a while and I know George [Lucas]. And they did come to me. But the problem was, the schedule they had in mind made it impossible to do…unless I dropped Tomorrowland. And I was just really deeply into this film at that point. It’s easy to say, “Just put it on hold.” But you’re moving now; you don’t know if you’re going to be able to move later. Maybe it’s true of filmmakers like Cameron or Spielberg, but I have to act on momentum. We had reached a critical mass where it would’ve thrown the furniture around from the train stopping. I really want to see this movie. I love the Star Wars films, and I can’t wait to see what J.J. does, but it meant I’d have to shut down one dream to participate in another. I feel like [with Tomorrowland] we’re making something that’s really special and unique.
And there is another Quote from Bird on the subject:
For a moment there I thought it would work out to do this and go right into it, and it wouldn’t work. There was no way to make that schedule and give this film the attention it deserved. I know it’s going to be terrific and everything, but I’m really happy to do this film. It’s rare to do a film of size that’s original.
How Producer Frank Marshall and Steven Spielberg Found Colin Trevorrow
But how does this relate to Colin Trevorrow directing Jurassic World? For that I give you an excerpt from our long on set interview with Colin and producer Frank Marshall, who is married to Star Wars: The Force Awakens producer Kathleen Kennedy.
After all the years you’re trying to get [another Jurassic Park] made, what did Colin have to really bring it to the table?
Frank Marshall: Well, it’s basic storytelling. You know, he’s–when we looked at his movie–actually, I have to go back because it’s all Brad Bird’s fault.
It connects to Star Wars?
Frank Marshall: Yeah. So, it’s all a family thing, which is when they [Disney and Lucasfilm] were looking for directors [for Star Wars 7], we were also looking for directors [for Jurassic World]. And Kathy [Kennedy] and I were talking one night and there was this kind of wild idea that Brad [Bird] had about how he could possibly do Star Wars and Tomorrowland at the same time. And he says “there is this guy that reminds me of me.”
Colin Trevorrow: Oh, Brad.
Frank Marshall: And that he could depend on [Colin] to sort of prep everything and then he would step in and direct and of course, that’s the kind of pie in the sky. I’m sure Kathy would have a little trouble going to Bob Iger with that.
Yes, you read that right, Brad Bird’s initial pitch was that he would finish Tomorrowland while Colin Trevorrow would act as his stand-in during production prep on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As Frank Marshall says, the idea is a bit far fetched but it seems like it was considered for a quick minute as Kennedy really wanted Bird to direct and they didn’t believe JJ Abrams would be available. But how does that lead to Colin Trevorrow directing Jurassic World? Lets continue with another excerpt from our interview:
Frank Marshall: But, I said, well, okay, well, who is this guy? So, we screened the movie [Safety Not Guaranteed] and I kind of saw what Brad was thinking. And so, I don’t know whether I called your manager to get your number or what happened.
Colin Trevorrow: I remember–yeah, I think you called him and then you called me. I remember sitting at my house. “Frank Marshall’s on the phone.”
Frank Marshall: And, we had this great conversation. I went to Steven [Spielberg] and I said, you know, I think there’s somebody I’d like to bring out to meet. We had met a couple of people. I met a lot of people, but getting through me to the next step was–there weren’t many. And [Colin] came out and we’re here today, you know? It was just–it was the easiest thing I’ve done in a long time because it was so organic because we all wanted to make the same movie.