Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy Calls Star Wars Director Turnover Controversy “Exaggerated”

Controversy surrounding Star Wars’ director turnover is blown out of proportion, according to Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. Phil Lord and Chris Miller — hired to direct young Han Solo prequel Solo: A Star Wars Story — were famously fired in the summer of 2017 over reported clashes with Kennedy, who cited “different creative visions” for parting ways with the duo before tapping veteran filmmaker Ron Howard to assume directorial duties. On Episode IX, later titled The Rise of Skywalker, Kennedy hired Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow to helm the final installment of the sequel trilogy previously steered by J.J. Abrams on The Force Awakens and Rian Johnson on The Last Jedi. Another reported clash with Kennedy led to Trevorrow’s removal, and he was replaced by Abrams.

“Nobody in our business develops something with one person, that’s it, and everything goes perfectly,” Kennedy told The Los Angeles Times ahead of The Rise of Skywalker. “That’s a fairly common part of the process. We fall under incredible scrutiny because it’s Star Wars. Because of the quality I’m striving for, I’m reaching out to top talent, and vice versa.”

Elaborating on Trevorrow’s firing in a previous interview with io9, Kennedy said that parting of ways stemmed from more creative differences.

“Well, I wouldn’t say it didn’t work. Colin was at a huge disadvantage not having been a part of Force Awakens and in part of those early conversations because we had a general sense of where the story was going,” she said. “Like any development process, it was only in the development that we’re looking at a first draft and realizing that it was perhaps heading in a direction that many of us didn’t feel was really quite where we wanted it to go.”

Kennedy continued, “And we were on a schedule, as we often are with these movies, and had to make a tough decision as to whether or not we thought we could get there in the time or not. And as I said, Colin was at a disadvantage because he hadn’t been immersed in everything that we all had starting out with Episode VII.”

Abrams acknowledges he was “never supposed to do” Episode IX, as he expected to step away from the episodic saga after The Force Awakens: an accelerated time frame and a mandate for a sequel every two years ruled out Abrams’ return for Episode VIII.

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“I always knew, when we were doing Episode VII, there were certain things that I felt, for me — and I was never supposed to do this movie — I would need to see at the end of this trilogy, at the end of these nine films,” Abrams said on Popcorn with Peter Travers. “And then Kathleen Kennedy called and said, ‘Would you come on?’ One of the attractions was, ‘Ooh, I actually get to do these things,’ instead of backseat, ‘I wish, I wish.’”

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens December 20. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.

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