/Film Interview: ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Simon Kinberg Talks Daily Schedule, Internet Rumors and Episode VII
Posted on Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 by Germain Lussier
Simon Kinberg has just about the best and busiest job in Hollywood. He’s the shephard of the entire 20th Century Fox Marvel universe, co-writing and producing all the new X-Men movies. He co-wrote Fantastic Four. He’s developing other films at the studio, such as Magic the Gathering and The Martian. He’s a producer on Neill Blomkamp’s Chappie. He’s a consultant on Star Wars Episode VII and he’s writing and producing a Star Wars spin-off. Basically, Kinberg has his hands in a huge collection of awesome geek properties.
And if you learn one thing from our interview, which took place at Comic-Con, it’s warranted. Kinberg is a geek just like you and I. He reads Internet rumors, watches a lot of movies, and takes fan anticipation into consideration when developing his huge body of work.
Adding another massive job to the list, the next Kinberg project we’ll see is Star Wars Rebels. He’s an executive producer on the upcoming Disney XD show, which is set between Episodes III and IV, and he wrote multiple episodes. In our interview, we talked about how Kinberg balances his time, writing for the Star Wars canon, how his role on Episode VII differs from Rebels, potential connections between the two, Star Wars synergy and much more. Read our full Simon Kinberg Star Wars Rebels interview below.
/Film: Hi Simon, Germain from Slashfilm.
Simon Kinberg: I talked to somebody from Slashfilm last night.
Yes, Peter [Sciretta] was there last night.
Yeah, he was very nice about the show.
I’m a big fan of your site so I was very relieved.
Thank you so much.
I take your stuff really seriously. It’s like when I have stuff come out, I check your site to see if you liked it.
We do, most of the time.
Yeah, you do most of the time. And when you don’t, you have the right, you’re correct.
Well thanks. Now, a question I’ve been wanting to ask you for some time is how do you balance your time? You’re producing Star Wars Rebels, Episode 7, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Chappie and more. How does a day in the life of Simon Kinberg work?
Every day is a different day. I mean, I don’t sleep a lot, but I’ve never slept a lot, so that helps me a little bit. I love what I do, so I have a lot of energy for it. But every day is different. You know, the days when I’m on set like, for the last few months I’ve been on the set of Fantastic Four, that will be most of my day. And then whatever writing responsibilities I have will happen after wrap usually. It’s a normal day when I’m shooting, I’ll shoot from seven in the morning until seven at night, I’ll have dinner, I’ll go home, I’ll write from 8:30, 9:00 until one, two in the morning, sleep four, five hours and start my day over. So that’s the way it goes.
Now it flips when I’m not on set and I’m writing a first draft of a script. Then I will be completely immersed in that first draft of a script. So I’ll write from like 10 in the morning until six. Then I’ll do phone calls and emails and other responsibilities for a couple of hours, have dinner, and then sometimes keep writing after that for a few hours. So it really depends. My life now is sort of split almost 50/50 between producing and writing. And just different films have different needs day to day. And I just have to be able to react and respond to that.
What’s crazy about this show is that it’s canon.
Right. Everything you do is set in stone. So what are some of the challenges that it poses where you know the history, things going on around the galaxy, plus knowing this is now committed to Star Wars history?
Well look, I mean, the responsibility of writing anything that is a Star Wars story is immense. And it’s immense to do the same thing with X-Men or Fantastic Four or Sherlock Holmes. Anything that has an esteemed lineage. Star Wars is different though. I think Star Wars is a religion in a way that no other story of the last century has been. And it is for so many generations and really global, it doesn’t make a difference what your gender is, it is the popular story of, really, the medium of film. So it’s interesting. In a way it’s easy to fit into the canon, because it’s not as dense a canon. It’s Clone Wars and six movies.
Six movies, yeah.
So it’s an easier canon to sort of keep in mind as you’re writing. Because I’m such a crazy fan of Star Wars anyway, I know it just as a fan. In fact like if I was watching Star Wars Rebels and I had nothing to do with it, I’d be able to pick out things that I didn’t think were canon. So that’s not so much a challenge and part of what’s fun about it is like knowing that this leads pretty directly into A New Hope. That was for me, when we first started talking about the show, the thing that was so much fun was that it was like a baby prequel. “Baby” only in the sense of its not wildly before, but it’s, you know, a short interval prequel before A New Hope. That was the draw for me.
But in saying that, in New Hope and Empire, we’re led to believe Luke is the New Hope and then there’s Obi Wan and Yoda and they’re the last Jedi. Does that sort of back you guys into an ending because now we have Ezra and we have Kanan, so can we assume they have to die at some point? Have you guys thought about that?
We have definitely thought about how it fits into the larger canon, yeah. And part of what you get to do when you’re working these kinds of worlds, we did with X-Men too as well, is sometimes change. I mean, obviously Days of Future Past is a perfect example of this. Because of things you do in the past, you know, you can’t change some of the canon, but you can surprise people inside of the canon. And so some of the show will try to do that. But for the most part it’ll fit very snugly into the original trilogy.
Okay, so what is the difference between producing this show and your role producing Episode VII?
I’m not a producer of Episode VII. I’m a consultant on VII.
Yeah. I’m writing and producing one of the other movies.
On VII I think my title is “Creative Consultant” or something like that. And it’s totally different responsibilities. I didn’t write anything on VII. Obviously on Rebels I wrote a bunch of episodes. I wrote the first two. I wrote the season finale of this first season. Which I’m really proud of. The season finale turned out great. And on Rebels, I’m very involved day to day. Like I read every draft of the scripts, I look at cuts of the shows, I give notes on everything. I come for writers’ conferences. It’s essentially a full time job. I have a lot of full time jobs.
But on VII, it’s more of a consultant role where I will come in at specific points to give my thoughts creatively on whatever they want me to look at. So I was involved in the beginning of talking about possible directions for it. I spent a lot of time with Lucasfilm guys before J.J. was hired. Then I spent a lot of time with Lucasfilm guys and J.J. and I read scripts as they come in. Give my notes, thoughts, they take them or leave them. And that’s how that goes.
Josh Trank was recently announced as a spin-off director. You’re working with him now on Fantastic Four. Did you have a hand in making that happen?
Yeah, I did. I spoke very highly of Josh to the Lucasfilm guys. They were interested in him because he, like Rian [Johnson, director of Episode VIII] and like Gareth [Edwards, director of a 2016 spin-off], is very much that next generation filmmaker. He comes from a background of making a big movie without a big budget. Which I think is also, not that these movies…they’ll have huge budgets, but the sort of the tradition that George [Lucas] started was somebody that came from making American Graffiti to making a huge science fiction movie. And so there was some of that sort of vibe I know Lucasfilm likes about these new filmmakers. But yeah, I definitely was involved in that process.
Do you think you guys will be working again?
Me and Josh?
[Smiles] I think we will, in one form or another, be working together again.
Okay. About a year ago, a Disney executive described the spin-off movies, one of which you’re writing, as origin stories. Would you say that was an accurate description of just maybe of one or two?
I can’t talk about the content of what those movies are.
All right, understood. Speaking of which, there are so many rumors out there about Star Wars.
Do you look at them? Do you react to them? Do the people at Lucasfilm look at them? Do they react to them? Tell me a little bit about the behind the scenes when we write something about Star Wars.
I can only tell you from myself, because I don’t know to be honest. I don’t really know what Lucasfilm looks at and how they react. I should not but I read everything I can on the Internet. I’m just a geek about stuff. As a fan as much as a professional. So I should probably be more disciplined about it. I’d probably get a little more writing done and be a little bit less stressed about the things I’m writing because they’re often talked about on the Internet. But I like it. I feel like I’m part of that culture now. And it is part of the culture of watching movies.
And I think it’s actually part of the culture of making movies, ’cause it’s something, I can say on the side of the X-Men movies, we are aware of what the fans want. We’re aware of what the fans are dissatisfied with. We all try to do stuff that the fans are gonna get excited about. And I think you see on something like Days of Future Past that’s a movie that is very much something that comes from my and Bryan Singer’s love for the comics, but also our understanding of what fans didn’t like about even some of the previous movies, you know? And so yeah, I’m very aware of that stuff.
Last thing. With Rebels being the first thing out of the gate for Disney and Star Wars, this is a big thing. And obviously this first season is going to be its own thing. However, moving ahead, have you guys thought about the potential you basically have a half hour Star Wars commercial on TV every week leading up to Episode VII. Will that use or influence anything at all?
I don’t know. It’s its own thing. I mean, there’s gonna be so much Star Wars material the next 10 years or our lives, maybe more than 10 years. They’re all kind of distinct. There’s a lot of synergy, I can say, at Lucasfilm having everybody know the information from the other stories. So I do think there is, in the same way that there’s an overall plan and a communication within Marvel Studios. I think Lucasfilm has a similar kind of synergy happening. But in terms of a responsibility for the Rebels to sort of connect to Episode VII? We haven’t really talked about that. And there is such a huge time gap between them that really what we focus on is the connection and responsibility to Episode IV.
Star Wars Rebels premieres in October. Watch the first seven minutes here.