Posted on Thursday, December 17th, 2015 by Peter Sciretta
Peter: What are the differences between the Saga films and the anthology films?
Kathleen Kennedy: Well the Saga films are primarily the soap opera centered around the Skywalker family. The standalone films can be a wide variety of genres inside the Star Wars universe, and they very definitely have a beginning, middle, and end. They are not being designed to necessarily build new franchises. They are really being designed as standalone movies which is fantastic for the filmmakers we bring in, and the actors we hire, because it’s a different sensibility. And the stories can fall pretty much anywhere on the timeline. There is no strict guidelines for what we’re doing. Although what’s brilliant about what Kiri Hart is doing inside the story department is, we’re really looking at everything we’re doing. Our story group looks at and gets involved with animation, anything we’re doing with games, anything going on with theme parks, anything that’s happening with publishing, even certain things inside DCP. We are very closely tied to any of the narrative storytelling in those divisions because that does have to make some kind of sense. We don’t want something heading off in some direction that completely undoes what was setup in another story.
Peter: So it sounds like with the anthology films you’re taking the sort of Marvel approach, like Ant-Man’s their heist film, doing different genre stories in the world — so is Rogue One the heist film of this universe?
Kathleen Kennedy: It is to a certain extent. It is definitely in the genre thinking but Star Wars is very different than Marvel in that they basically build their stories around characters, and then they seed those characters in different stories. Star Wars you know is a place, it’s a universe, so those stories are constructed a little differently than Marvel.
Peter: You know, when this was announced, it seemed to me that the Star Wars Saga films were going to follow the legacy characters and the Star Wars anthology films would focus on new characters in this galaxy, but so far it seems like the opposite.
Kathleen Kennedy: Uh huh.
Peter: You guys are planning the Saga films around…
Kathleen Kennedy: New characters.
Peter: And the anthology films around Han Solo and…
Kathleen Kennedy: No, no. It just so happens to be Rogue One is the precursor to New Hope and yes, this Han Solo idea, but I would not argue that we are setting up any kind of prequel notion with these standalone movies. I think that’s so far just coincidence. And to be perfectly honest, we have changed the order of those at the last minute, so that’s not the intention at all.
Peter: Okay. You mentioned Rian Johnson with Episode VIII, when Episode VII is being shot does Rian come in and read the script and give notes—
Kathleen Kennedy: Yup.
Peter: … and maybe suggest plot points in VII to seed things for VIII?
Kathleen Kennedy: Yes. We talked a little bit about that, but we didn’t end up doing a great deal of that — but we did talk about that. And Rian did come in very early and he read, and came and visited the set. J.J. and him had a lot of conversations. I think Colin will end up doing more of that more-so with Rian as he develops Episode IX.
Peter: That makes sense with that being the third film of a trilogy. George also has like 100 scripts for a live-action television series that never happened, are those gone?
Kathleen Kennedy: No. No, interestingly enough, that’s an area we’ve spent a lot of time, reading through the material that he developed is something we very much would like to explore. And there was 1313 the game, where there was….
Peter: The concept art for that looked amazing!
Kathleen Kennedy: Unbelievable. So our attitude [is,] we don’t want to throw any of that stuff away. It’s gold. And it’s something we’re spending a lot of time looking at, pouring through, discussing, and we may very well develop those things further. We definitely want to.
Peter: Is J.J. Abrams involved in the theme park stuff, because it seems like from some of the concept art, they are using some designs from his movie?
Kathleen Kennedy: Not really involved, but obviously we’ve made the concept art available to him to look through and comment on, but he hasn’t really been that involved. His involvement on VIII and IX will really just be an executive producer, and really just to continue the storytelling. But he really doesn’t get involved in anything to do with the theme parks.
Peter: Some fans were upset over the abandonment of the expanded universe, or relegating it to not being canon. Can you walk us though the process of how that comes to be?
Kathleen Kennedy: Well, George allowed that expanded universe to really go its own way. And some of it was extraordinary and really well done. And some of it, less so. But it didn’t follow any narrative structure and we felt with all of the development that was going to go on in all these different areas would make things too chaotic. And we didn’t abandon it because we thought something was wrong with it, we abandoned it because it had gone in too many different directions without any oversight by George and thats something we’re trying to rectify. So the concept of the expanded universe is similar to what we;re continuing to do, but within a bit more structure.
Peter: Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father, so there is this personal connection between the hero and the villain, how do you top that with Kylo Ren?
Kathleen Kennedy: We can’t look at it as trying to top Darth Vader because Darth Vader is extraordinarily iconic now. All we can do, and all we’ve done, is try to create a three-dimensional, really compelling interesting villain, and that I think we’ve succeeded in doing. And whether or not he goes on to reach that iconic status along the lines of Darth Vader, who knows. It’d be great if that happened, and certainly we’re trying to create a character that reaches that high bar.