So the news just dropped that “Anonymous” screenwriter John Orloff has been tapped to write Bryan Singer’s reboot of “Battlestar Galactica” for the big screen. I was aware of this imminent announcement when I sat down with Orloff last week to discuss his work on “Anonymous” (that interview will pop up in this space in the coming days), so I wanted to get his perspective on transitioning to a project of that scale.
Orloff got the gig because Singer happened to see “Anonymous” and really liked it. Singer had talked to the writer about “Battlestar Galactica” being a sort of Shakespearean story, fathers and sons painted against a big interstellar canvas. After that, it was all about Orloff’s take on the material, which he calls “pretty ballsy.”
Naturally he was reticent to go into too many details. But it sounded to me like a project he wants to fit inside the pre-existing framework that came before. I was reminded of how the filmmakers behind 2009’s “Star Trek” were careful about that kind of thing, not to draw any real definitive parallel here.
Here is the bulk of what Orloff told me:
“I’m a huge fan of the original series and of the second show, too. But I always thought the first show was a little too heavily reliant on ‘Star Wars,’ you know? Whereas I think the second show was really original and really cool. And I think I’ve come up with a way to write this movie that won’t fuck any of that up. I’m not sure how much they want me to talk about it. Let’s just say it’s not what you expect. It will all work in the universe that exists. It will not conflict with anything Ron Moore has done. I don’t think you can compete with what he’s done.
“I’m actually a science fiction geek more than anything. I just sort of got type cast as sort of a non-fiction screenwriter. That’s because the first thing I ever wrote was ‘Anonymous’ and then my first job was ‘Band of Brothers,’ and that led to ‘A Mighty Heart.’ But I’m a total ‘Star Wars’ geek. I was a huge ‘Star Trek’ nut. ‘2001’ is probably my favorite film. Stanley Kubrick is my favorite director; every movie is like a novel in the sense of the metaphoric depths of his thinking. And so my whole life I’ve always wanted to write a space epic. So to finally get a chance to write in the genre that I wanted to write basically forever is really cool.”
I have to come clean and admit that I’ve never really dug in on either series, though I did see the new mini-series when it came along. Regardless, I think Orloff is careful to maintain a lot of what built a new fanbase for the material, and clearly he’s excited about diving into a world he’s dreamed about writing for years.