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Brad Bird Turned Down Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But Will He Direct An Anthology Film?

Promoting his new movie Tomorrowland, Director Brad Bird is doing the press rounds. Bird recently did interviews with various news outlets, including MTV, Yahoo! and IGN.  Not surprisingly, all three outlets asked Bird about how close he came to directing Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

IGN goes into the most detail on Bird’s relationship with Star Wars.  He sat down with Tomorrowland writer Damon Lindelof and they went into detail on what it felt like when Bird got the offer to direct Star Wars:

“I think we’re both big star wars fans,” Bird said. “You [Lindelof] assumed that I was going to jump ship! [and exit Tomorrowland for Star Wars: Episode VII].”

“Yeah, I thought you were gonzo,” Lindelof said to Bird. “They’d just offered Brad Star Wars and we were about six weeks out [from production on Tomorrowland] and were scouting in Florida, and I looked down at my phone and it was your smiley face and I was like, ‘He’s about to bounce.’ And you didn’t.”

Bird goes on to say that with George Clooney committing to Tomorrowland, he felt he couldn’t walk away and potentially kill the movie:

“George [Clooney] had committed [to Tomorrowland] at that point,” Bird said of the factors impacting the decision. “I love Star Wars, but Star Wars is going to get made whether I do it or not. They are not going to delay Star Wars in order for me to do Tomorrowland. [In terms of] Tomorrowland, you know momentum is fragile. And we need momentum. There was a lot of momentum on Tomorrowland and I really loved what the movie was. And I thought there’s a chance that Tomorrowland wont get made, simply because it loses its momentum. A movie is a weird thing. It’s not a tangible thing. You have this wispy cloud that you’re trying to solidify and I thought that it deserved to be made. You know, Star Wars is a very robust thing right now and it’s going to be fine.”

The funny part of their interview with IGN is that Lindelof’s narrative of what happened is completely unintelligible.  I read his quote in the article, then watched the actual video interview because the written quote was so confusing.  Trust me, hearing him say it doesn’t help at all.  Although I absolutely loved Lost, I am not a fan of Lindelof’s writing.  It’s just funny to me that his explanations are as convoluted as his writing.  Please keep him away from Star Wars.

Back to Brad Bird, he was more direct with why he couldn’t do Star Wars with MTV, stating that at one point it seemed like he might have the chance to finish Tomorrowland, and then go right into directing The Force Awakens.  When it became clear that he wouldn’t be able to do that, he knew he couldn’t do Star Wars.

With Yahoo! he elaborates on that point a bit:

“It absolutely was [a tough decision],” said Bird, who launched his directorial career with three animated favorites (Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille) before making his live-action debut with 2011’s Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol. “But there was no way to do that film without junking this film, and we had already gotten George Clooney involved and I was excited about this film. I understand they had to get [The Force Awakens] made, and they would’ve had to push it in order for me to do it.”

Interestingly, from the Yahoo! article, Bird seems very positive about Star Wars in general:

Bird still harbors strong feelings for Star Wars. While introducing a Tomorrowland screening at L.A.’s Chinese Theatre, Bird talked about how special the venue was to him… mainly because it’s where he first saw the George Lucas space opera.

Told the Star Wars universe does currently has an opening now that Josh Trank has exited an upcoming spinoff, Bird didn’t bite. “Right now I’m writing Incredibles 2, so I’ve got my hands full.”

While it’s true that Bird is slated to do Incredibles 2, there’s plenty of time between now and the second Anthology film.  Assuming they keep the 2018 date (which may not happen given the craziness with Josh Trank), Bird may very well have time to do Incredibles and then hop onto Star Wars.  Other possibilities of course include Episode IX or the third Anthology film.

What’s clear is that Bird was approached to do The Force Awakens, and has a sincere love for Star Wars.  I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him take the helm in the near future.


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Jason Ward (EIC)

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