Well, so much for my plans to actually investigate this one.
Rumors are rampant in Hollywood circles that Lucasfilm has hired at least one woman and one person of color to write/develop films in the STAR WARS universe. But they’re keeping it a secret, presumably because it’s unclear whether these projects will ultimately move forward (why announce something if you aren’t committed to making it?), or because online fandom has become toxic and it’s in everyone’s best interests to keep things private for now.
I first noticed these rumors early Wednesday morning on Facebook in a thread featuring multiple, well-known screenwriters. I’d name them, but these people didn’t accept my “friend requests” to have their spot blown-up online. I reached out privately for names, but have yet to hear back.
Of course, this would be seismic news for Star Wars, which has been the exclusive domain of white men with the exception of Leigh Brackett, a white woman credited with co-writing The Empire Strikes Back with George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan… back in 1980, before I was even born.
Now, I have no idea who these mystery hires could be, but obviously, Disney is about to release Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther and Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time, and it’s entirely possible that, if one of them has been hired for Star Wars, the studio wouldn’t want journalists asking about a galaxy far, far away instead of the big-budget movies that both are promoting.
The truth is, I’ve heard DuVernay’s name rumored for Star Wars for years, ever since The Force Awakens premiere — a mere two months before she was hired to direct A Wrinkle in Time. At the time, I’d heard that Wrinkle would serve as a test-run of sorts, to prove she could handle a nine-figure budget and deliver a box office hit. I’m not saying she’s the most likely candidate, just pointing out that she’s already in business with the studio on a tentpole film, and Disney likes to hire people they’ve worked with before. Not that Star Wars should be considered the end-all, be-all of directing assignments.
Yesterday’s news that Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss would create a new slate of Star Wars movies certainly looked good on paper. They’re behind the biggest show on TV and clearly have a knack for world-building. But the optics were terrible. If you watch Game of Thrones, you were probably pumped, but I don’t watch GoT so my first reaction was, “wow, two more white guys.” And that’s a really lazy reaction to have — honestly, I’m getting sick of it — but it was an honest reaction. Two more white guys. In 2018.
Kathleen Kennedy is too damn smart to ignore the elephant in the room that is the internet. So maybe it has already been addressed? I didn’t want to beat up on Disney and Lucasfilm without all the facts, but now that Franklin Leonard has let the proverbial cat out of the bag on Twitter, it’s time to demand some answers. We’ll be sure to update this post if we get any, but for now, these encouraging rumors are the closest thing we’ll get to proof that Lucasfilm is ready to change with the times.
I have a lot more to say on this subject, but unfortunately every day is a footrace online, so I’ll have to end it here. Check out the tweets below, and just know that Daniel Kunka isn’t the screenwriter I referenced on Facebook. The screenwriting community is clearly aware that a hire was made. And now… we wait.
If the rumors are true that Lucasfilm has hired multiple women and people of color to write and direct Star Wars films and kept it quiet to respect their privacy, I happily and humbly withdraw my previous criticisms and hope that privacy remains respected.
— Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) February 7, 2018
I know at least one female writer who was hired.
— Daniel Kunka (@unikunka) February 7, 2018
And since I’m the least tech-savvy person on the planet and can’t figure out how to erase the names of Facebook users from screenshots, I’ll leave you with this exchange…
Screenwriter A: Not that one makes much of a difference, but I know at least one woman who wrote a script for them.
Screenwriter B: I know one non white director they have too.
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief