So it looks like I am going to be writing a lot about this in the next two years, but it feels like there is still so much resistance out there for what is going on. The announcement was made in the last week for the fact that Michael Arndt was brought in to be the script writer for Star Wars Episode VII. This is a big deal and a lot of people are going to scream. They are going to say that Arndt does not have the experience with Sci-Fi that would be necessary to do the next Star Wars film, they will also complain that with his background as a comedy writer he will not be right to do the job. I will admit that while I had heard of ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ and was impressed with ‘Toy Story 3’ those don’t scream out to you that this is the man who needs to write a Star Wars film.
However before everyone starts flying off the handle lets look at the three men who have so far put words in the mouths of the population of a galaxy far, far away.
First and foremost we had George Lucas himself, now if you look at the feature-length work that George had done prior to ‘A New Hope’ he was the writer of only two feature-length films prior to doing Star Wars. First was ‘THX-1138’ his original Sci-Fi adventure, and while it is considered important as George’s first major work, if that was all we had of his then no one would remember it. Second he wrote and directed ‘American Graffiti’ a day in the life coming of age comedy. So George himself would not have been the first person that you might select to be the screenwriter of a huge Sci-Fi epic. In fact as a screenwriter George did not even get his own cast to believe in him that much. One of the great legends of the making of ‘A New Hope’ was the fact that Harrison Ford was claimed to have said George “should be tied to a chair and forced to read his own dialogue out loud.”
That brings us to the second most influential writer to dip his pen in the Star Wars ink, Lawrence Kasdan. What was Kasdan’s resume as a film maker prior to his writing the script for ‘Empire Strikes Back’ & ‘Return of the Jedi’? Nothing, if you check IMDB Kasdan has no professional credits prior to his working for Lucas. What has he done since? He has done movies like ‘Body Heat’, ‘The Big Chill’ & ‘Silverado’.
The only other screen writer to get credit for a Star Wars movie was Jonathan Hales who was co-screenwriter with George on ‘Attack of the Clones’ which is arguably the weakest of all six of the movies. Hales credits were mostly in TV writing before he worked with George.
So with looking at all of that, what do I see as the most important thing when looking for a writer for the next Star Wars movie. The writer who handles this task has to be able to make these more than just another space movie, they need to have these character be people that we can fall in love with and be stuck in our hearts for generations to come. As bad as some of the dialogue that George Lucas wrote was, he made characters that became part of us, Lawrence Kasdan is a writer who has always made the characters central to the stories he tells. So what we have to look at is the characters.
Back in 2006 when ‘Little Miss Sunshire’ first hit it big, Arndt was interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter, and through most of the interview he talked about Characters, how they work and what you need to do to make them interesting. He talked about how in comedy he believed that you don’t always have to make them funny, if you make people believe in them then it is easier to have the funny moments.
So for a screenwriter that understand the need for characters that can be believed in and are placed in the positions to make the tough decisions I think Michael Arndt is a wonderful choice. And will do an excellent job as screenwriter for Star Wars Episode VII.