Lucasfilm and Disney have solidified part of the equation for "Star Wars: Episode VII' by attaching Michael Arndt ("Toy Story 3," "Little Miss Sunshine") to write the screenplay from George Lucas's notes, but speculation continues to run wild about the film's director. In a recent chat, Kathleen Kennedy and George Lucas discussed the process of hiring a director, and the duo also revealed what Lucas's role will be for the upcoming trilogy.
Describing himself as the "keeper of the flame" for the franchise, Lucas insisted that he's back in the familiar mode of simply overseeing the franchise he created. Astute readers will recall that Lucas didn't direct "The Empire Strikes Back" or "Return of the Jedi" (though rumors persist that he all but ghost-directed the latter); instead, he wrote the stories and served as a producer.
He'll apparently serve in a similar capacity here, as it sounds like he'll essentially be on call to guide the new trilogy and perhaps "fill in the blanks" of the story as it's written. Judging from the comments, it seems as though Lucas will be much more hands-off with this new series, but his presence will be felt since everyone will be careful to adhere to his vision.
When discussing possible director candidates, Kennedy indicated that she's looking for someone with a lot of enthusiasm for the project. Furthermore, she suspects that whoever is tapped will need to show an obvious appreciation for "Star Wars" itself.
Kennedy also expects that whoever lands the gig will be equally "thrilled, excited, and daunted" by the gig, and that Lucasfilm will look for someone with the ability to tell stories "within a complex world." She believes that the eventual list of candidates will be "long," as she's already had several choices "spring to mind" among people she's worked with in the past.
Just as Lucas highlighted the possibility for a new generation to take over his franchise, Kennedy indicated that whoever helms Episode VII might be part of a new guard of filmmakers that will "carry the mantle." Expect several names to emerge, of course, before Lucasfilm and Disney settle on a final choice.
Despite Kennedy and Lucas's insistence on a new generation, I find it hard to discount some of those among the old guard, especially someone like Joe Johnston, who got his start on the original trilogy and who has had a working relationship with Kennedy, Lucas, and Disney in the past.
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