Following last week's Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, ComicBook.com is kicking off a series of red carpet interviews with Star Wars Rebels' cast and crew. We started the discussions with one half of the Executive Producing team, producer and writer Simon Kinberg. Kinberg has a unique position, as he writes for both the Rebels TV series and the live-action Star Wars films. As he intimated at Anaheim's Rebels panel, however, he and fellow EP Dave Filoni have actually brought the live-action writers into the Rebels writing room and vice-versa, helping, alongside the Star Wars Story Group, to keep a cohesive tone and story between the two media.
Kinberg talked to us about character and story, why the Star Wars universe is unique, what’s it’s like graduating from fan to creator, and even mentioned that other small project he’s working on, X-Men: Apocalypse.
You’re in a unique position, Simon, working the everyday process on both Rebels and the live-action. How does your direct involvement in both sides of the Star Wars Universe help your position?
Kinberg: Well, Lucasfilm has the Story Group that stays aware of everything that’s happening in the movies, the TV shows, video games, comic books, and books. I guess I’m the one who’s involved in both the show and the movies in a writing capacity, though. It helps me because I know what’s happening in both universes! It’s not just that you stay informed in what’s happening in the different films or in the show, but you get inspired. We create a character, or a moment, or an event in the show, that we want to carry over into the movies, or vice-versa. Or at the least, you can start thinking about how the movies and the TV show create a world that they both take place in. It’s building a richer, deeper tapestry. As a storyteller, I’ve never experienced anything like it. In whatever capacity, I'm telling stories in different time periods with different characters, all living in this greater Star Wars universe.
Right. You talked a little in the press conference about this, but obviously, you have to appeal to several different generations of Star Wars fans, both young and old. What’s the balancing act like? Do you try to focus on “I want my kids to enjoy this but I want to enjoy this too?”
SK: I don’t think we really approach it from the perspective of a fan's specific age. You know, I think we really approach it from trying to make the show like the original films, and they really were an all-ages experience. But, the original films spoke to us as a kid. A lot of the people working on the show grew up like I did. We’re all in our thirties or forties, and we grew up seeing those movies in the theater and were inspired by them.
So we’re trying to ensure that tone, which happens to be a sort of optimistic, all-audience kind of tone. But we never think, “It has to be even – it’s too sophisticated, or this is too dark, or this isn’t fun or cute enough.” We’re really just trying to tell a story that feels like Star Wars.
As a fan who entered this universe professionally, how exciting was it when you and Dave Filoni sit down and he says, “Okay, how do we bring Ahsoka or Rex into the show?”
SK: One of the things that’s been amazing about this show is that our main characters are completely original characters. But when we did that, we knew that we would eventually bring in characters from the films and from Clone Wars. So, to sit with Dave, and have him bring in his characters from Clone Wars, and knowing what that’s going to mean for the fans and knowing what it means to me and my kids, was amazing! My kids grew up on Clone Wars the way I grew up on the original films! It was amazing.
But equally amazing was the moment I was at my computer, writing the season finale of season one. I’m writing the script, and I hit “Control-3” for character, and I started to type the word “Vader.” That for me was as surreal an experience as I’ve ever had professionally or creatively.
As a writer and a creator, what does the Star Wars universe let you do you creatively that no other property does?
SK: The thing about Star Wars that is so amazing, is that it’s the combination and culmination of so many different things that George Lucas got right. Aesthetically, it has the coolest spacecraft, it has the coolest aliens, and it has the coolest weaponry with the lightsaber. Thematically, it is richer than any other universe in the genre world, maybe than any other storytelling universe. The dark, the light, the notion of evil and goodness, the idea of the Force and the temptation of the Dark Side – they’re just incredible, deep, and rich ideas that I think are Shakespearean in their sense of seriousness and purpose. So you get to play on one hand with the greatest toys, and on the other hand with the deepest themes possible. There’s nothing else I can think of; even Lord of the Rings doesn’t have the same balance of that spectrum.
Awesome. Obviously, you’re involved all over the sci-fi and genre fan community. How has it been now that you’ve been pulled into the geeky public eye so much through these projects?
SK: In truth, it hasn’t changed my life that much. I walk around here and nobody knows who I am! (laughs) I’m not an actor, I’m not in front of a camera in a real way.
You don’t wear a crazy cowboy hat [like Dave Filoni]…
SK: No! (laughs) That’s what I said to Dave. That’s why he’s such a big celebrity, because he has that iconic thing. I will stay in my pretty generic outfits and look.
I've spent a little more time doing these kinds of events, but they’re really fun! To be able to be up on that stage, and have thousands of people giving a standing ovation to a trailer of an animated show that didn’t exist a year and a half ago? That’s amazing; it’s an amazing feeling.
The reality of it for me is, I was in Montreal yesterday prepping X-Men: Apocalypse. I get back on the plane tomorrow to go back to Montreal, we start shooting in a week, so the job keeps going.
Oh, and Star Wars actor Oscar Isaac? He’s going to crush it as Apocalypse, he’s going to be amazing.
Good to hear, he's one of my all-time favorite villains!
SK: Oh, he’s going to be so frightening, just really great.
Star Wars Rebels: Season Two premieres this summer with a special television event. For ComicBook.com's official review of the two-part premiere, head here.