Star Wars Episode VII Consultants Speak Out on the Project, Abrams and Fans

A new interview with Simon Kinberg and Lawrence Kasdan, the screenwriters behind the Star Wars [...]

Drew Struzan Star Wars posters

A new interview with Simon Kinberg and Lawrence Kasdan, the screenwriters behind the Star Wars spinoffs (who are also serving as consultants to Episode VII and presumably VIII and IX, as well), paints a picture of a group of writers working together almost like a TV writers' room, batting ideas back and forth and trying to figure out what shape the rejuvenated Star Wars (expanded) cinematic universe should take. "They're going to be fun," Kasdan, who wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi for Lucasfilm told IGN of the sequels. "J.J. [Abrams]'s a great director for the first sequel. Perfect. We're very happy to have him. The writers I've been working with -- Michael Arndt, who's going to write the sequel, and Simon Kinberg, who has, like me, been sort of consulting -- they're great. I've never really collaborated a lot, and I've never been a room with a bunch of writers thinking, 'Well, what should this thing be?' It's fun. It's really fun. And J.J.'s a writer. Yeah, lovely guy. I'd met him but didn't know him. But now I'm totally enamored by him. He's really funny and so enthusiastic." Kinberg, best known for Mr. & Mrs. Smith and X-Men: First Class, said that working with Kasdan was in and of itself part of the appeal of doing the sequels. "Raiders [of the Lost Ark] and The Empire Strikes Back were the two reasons I wanted to get into movies when I was a kid," he said. "I didn't know that you could write movies, I didn't know what the process was of making movies. I just knew I wanted to make movies like that. Then I found out he wrote Jedi, The Big Chill and ten other classic movies. He's been an idol of mine from when I was a kid, through high school, through film school. I studied Raiders and Empire more than any other movies. I've watched each of them probably one hundred-plus times. He's a lovely guy, and I've gotten to know him a bit. He's as good a guy as he is a writer, which doesn't happen all the time with your idols." He added, "It's an amazingly surreal thing, to imagine Larry as a colleague, because he has been my idol my whole life. It's like, if you grew up wanting to play basketball, and suddenly you're on the team with Michael Jordan. Larry's mind for screenwriting is sharper than anybody's I've met. He's the guy that wrote Raiders and Jedi and Body Heat and The Big Chill and Silverado -- he just has an innate understanding of storytelling, an essential understanding, unlike anything I've seen. ... It's so very surreal for me to spend time with Larry and for Larry to know my name. Every time he says my name, I'm a little surprised and it feels like a thrill. So yeah, I've asked him questions, and he is great at telling stories about the process of making those movies that were the classics of our time and the bedrocks for us growing up." Asked about the level of scrutiny the films are under, and the sheer volume of speculation from fans and the media regarding what they're about, he said that if he were a fan, he would want to know as little as possible going in, but that he understands that times have changed since "I am your father" and that just doesn't happen as much anymore. "I understand the interest in the movies, because I would be interested and I am interested as a pure fan," Kinberg said. "I've never seen a level of attention for a movie that isn't in theaters yet as I have for Star Wars movies, and I understand why, because they are arguably the greatest stories and the biggest cultural benchmark of our time. They're, for our generation, the movies that made many of us want to get into movies in the first place. So there is a level of passion and emotion connected to Star Wars that may be greater than other franchises. I try to not worry about speculation about the movies. I just think it's great that there's excitement about the movies. I've worked on movies where you have to generate excitement. This is one where the excitement is built in." He added that being a fan helps. "I honestly try to approach all of these movies -- whether it's a title like X-Men or Sherlock Holmes or Star Wars -- as a fan. I try to block out the anxiety I feel if I worry too much about the responsibility, and I just try to focus on the fun of it and the reasons why I grew up reading X-Men comics and watching Star Wars movies and reading Sherlock Holmes stories, that first time I read or watched any of those things and why they were so magical to me. I try to honor that and return to that as I would a fan. That's the way I feel. When I wake up in the morning and I'm working on an X-Men movie, it's insane for me every day because I'm so excited to get to work."