After landing the job of a lifetime Star Wars writer Gary Whitta explains what it’s like to work in the galaxy far, far away.
It’s no secret that very little is known about the upcoming Star Wars spin-off. In fact, we know almost nothing about this landmark movie that will presumably take us away from the Skywalker saga and into uncharted waters.
Obviously, I jumped at the chance to interview Star Wars writer Gary Whitta. But what can he tell us about the upcoming Star Wars spin-off?
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“Absolutely nothing at all, I’m afraid,” he said. And for good reason… after all, the first ever ‘Star Wars’ spin-off remains one of Disney’s most closely-guarded secrets. But he did share what it was like to work on such an important movie franchise.
“It was absolutely surreal,” he explained. “I loved every minute of it.”
Of course, just like J.J. Abrams, Gary Whitta is a big Star Wars fan… and perhaps that’s what makes him one of the best writers to tackle such a project. In fact, Mark Hamill recently said that the upcoming Star Wars movies are the first to be written and directed by the ‘fan generation’.
And Gary Whitta certainly seems to fit the bill.
“Star Wars was undoubtedly one of the most important formative influences on me as a child,” he said. “It’s absolutely one of the main reasons why I became a writer and pursued a career in film, so to have had an opportunity to contribute something to the next chapter of its on-going legacy is just insane. I feel incredibly privileged to have worked on it.”
But what was it like to work alongside some of the greats?
“Every movie is a collaborative process,” he explained. “Star Wars was a little different in that I got to collaborate with people who are heroes of mine, who were part of creating the Star Wars movies I grew up loving. So that was a very special and unique experience for me.”
Obviously, this is something that most Star Wars fans can only dream of. After all, not everyone gets to be part of one of their all-time favourite film franchises.
But for Gary Whitta it’s all in a day’s work… and his latest project sees him trade in Hollywood to pen his own novel, Abomination.
“It’s my first novel, and it’s kind of an interesting combination of historical fiction and fantasy in that it’s set in England during the dark ages, but it’s an alternate version of that history where monsters and magic exist,” he explained. “So it was really fun to be able to take elements of real ancient English history, like the reign of Alfred the Great and the Viking wars, and filter those through a more fantastical lens to create something new.”
“Basically I wanted to do a good old-fashioned monster story,” he added. “I think there’s something very primal and universal in that idea of ‘the monster within’ – whether it be Jekyll and Hyde, the Wolfman or even the Incredible Hulk. It’s really rich territory thematically and of course they’re really all stories about what it means to be human.”
“This was my attempt at that kind of story, plus it was a lot of fun to come up with the gnarliest, most disgusting and terrifying monsters imaginable, and I think I came up with a premise that allowed me to do that. John Carpenter’s The Thing was a big inspiration so if you liked that you’ll definitely like this.”
This couldn’t be more different from his Star Wars work, and it seems that he was keen to separate the two. “I had a very strict rule about not working on anything else while I was on Star Wars because I took my responsibility there very seriously and didn’t want to dilute my attention to it,” he said.
But while Star Wars is clearly an important project for the 42-year-old writer, it’s easy to see why creating your own universe has its own appeal.
“It’s always my preference,” he said. “I think any writer will tell you that they feel most strongly about the work they created from whole cloth rather than the projects they adapted from someone else’s material. The Book of Eli will always be very special to me because it’s an original that I created, and I feel that same way about Abomination.”
Abomination is described as a “good old-fashioned monster story” and is currently available to order via Inkshares. Ebook editions will be released shortly, with the hardback due sometime around May.
Of course, I couldn’t help asking Gary about his favourite part of the galaxy far, far away… and much like myself, it seems he’s a fan of The Empire Strikes Back. But his favourite moment of the original trilogy? It’s probably the most pivotal moment in the entire saga.
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“The Battle of Endor,” he said, “particularly when Lando leads the Rebel ships INSIDE the Death Star. I got a chill when I first saw that as a kid. And I still do today!”
Does this mean we can expect some equally epic moments in the first ‘Star Wars’ spin-off? For now, we’ll have to wait and see. But as a fan of the original trilogy, I can’t help thinking Gary Whitta will bring some of that old-world charm back to the galaxy far, far away.
And maybe the occasional epic space scene.
The first Star Wars spin-off heads to cinemas on 16 December 2016.
Are you looking forward to the first Star Wars spin-off? Will it include some epic, original trilogy-inspired scenes? Let us know what you think in the comments below…