The Vanity Fair cover story on Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now online in all its promotional glory, but there’s still plenty of juicy bits snuggled neatly between the reams — like the official explanation of why writer-for-hire Michael Arndt’s treatment for Episode VII was finally abandoned for J.J. Abrams’ and Lawrence Kasdan’s co-written screenplay.
Arndt, best known for his work on Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3, was hired by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy to write a treatment for the newly-minted Disney property’s first film. He did just that, but was then booted out of the job by director Abrams and Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark co-writer Kasdan. The screenplay that resulted became the basis for The Force Awakens. So what happened?
According to Vanity Fair, Arndt was having trouble finishing the script in time for the film’s shooting schedule:
“We were struggling to come up with a story,” Kasdan, 66, admitted. “There were elements that we would come up with and say, ‘Oh, that’s good! That’s strong!’ But it was not coming together.” With Abrams now part of the development team and the already tight summer 2015 release date looming ever closer, Michael Arndt was having difficulty finishing a script within the necessary time frame. “There was a ton of ideas and outlines, a lot of cards on the wall, a lot of writing on whiteboards,” Abrams said, but no screenplay. With pre-production chores already well under way in London, where much of the film would be shot at Pinewood Studios, Abrams and Kasdan took over the screenwriting process, starting more or less from scratch.
Basically, Arndt was unable to deliver on producing a viably scripted story for the beast of a film that already had an announced release date and a dedicated labor force larger than most independent nations.
What I’m curious to know is: What kinds of ideas was Arndt pitching and struggling with? What’s on all those note cards and probably long-erased whiteboards that never made it into Abrams’ and Kasdan’s finished script? They did, after all, start their own process “more or less from scratch.”
Maybe he was stuck on the “How many different ways can I possibly erase Jar Jar from the equation?” conundrum.
(Via Vanity Fair)