Director and screenwriter Tony Gilroy sat before a large group of Montclair State University students discussing his career, as they rightfully soaked up his every word. Mostly he talked about his career path and rejection as a screenwriter. He didn’t reveal any magical paths towards success within the film industry, however, Gilroy did touch on the controversial topic of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Tony Gilroy On Rogue One And Star Wars
Nominated for an Academy Award (Michael Clayton) and most notably known as the Bourne franchise screenplay writer, Tony Gilroy teamed up with Disney and Lucasfilm to help rewrite the script for Rogue One, while also directing reshoots. The film had already undergone a series of internal “creative differences” battles and was a hot topic within the film industry. Gilroy accepted a challenge many might have steered away from, simply because of the potential fallout he’d face if the film didn’t do well at the box office.
Needless to say, Rogue One brought in over a billion worldwide — and yet, many still question Tony Gilroy as to “what went wrong?” Upon receiving this question during the Montclair State University interview by Susan Skoog, Gilroy responded in a delicate way.
“When things pass through many hands and there’s a great deal of confusion … and there are all kinds of accessories and jewelry and bootstraps and zippers, and all the rest of the stuff. The purity for the characters, if it’s not there, to begin with, it deteriorates and just turns into an absolute mush.”
Perhaps it was a subconscious move on Gilroy’s part, but the statement of “purity of characters,” describes a deep-rooted issue within Star Wars franchise — going beyond the discussion of a single film.
A Purity Of Characters
Gilroy’s statement can be taken a couple different ways. The first and most often thought of meaning is that of purity in an association with a character’s personality trait. In screenplay writing, characters are often falsely given these traits to represent everything which is good and pure. However, it’s nearly impossible for a character to have no negative traits (even gods have flaws).
The other meaning behind Gilroy’s statement is likely regarding the foundation of a character. As the Star Wars franchise moved past the original trilogy and continued to expand, George Lucas ran into problems (balancing the purity of his characters with continuity) — especially from other published works (Star Wars Holiday Special, along with dozens of comics and books). The result was one of divisiveness amongst those in fandom, due to his choices regarding certain characters. And of course, the poor dialog too.
Upon Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm, “purity” became an even bigger issue, which is why the Disney Canon (as we now know it) became the new reality and all other materials became Legends. Making money off Legends material once introduced into the new Canon, ironically, just happened to coincide with this move.
But it was only a Band-Aid. As the franchise continued to expand at a rapid rate, the purity towards characters continually got thinner and thinner. This is what happened in The Last Jedi and in Solo: A Star Wars Story. It’s even taking place outside of the films, carrying over into the books, comics, and the animated television shows.
Is Purity In Star Wars Possible?
Whether intentional or not, Tony Gilroy touched a nerve when he mentioned “purity for characters” in the association of what went wrong during the production of Rogue One. Every critic, host, and writer has an opinion on the Star Wars franchise and how to make it better while reclaiming the glory days. But, is it possible to reclaim or recreate the “purity” of characters found in the original trilogy?
As a franchise continues to expand and grow, Easter eggs and details associated with the story are bound to overtake the purity of the characters themselves. One could say, it’s almost a natural chain of events. The only way to correct this path is to start fresh with a whole new batch of characters, and yet, the “accessories, jewelry, bootstraps, and zippers” (as mention by Gilroy) will always be there as an obstacle to overcome.
Much has happened in the Star Wars universe since the 70s when A New Hope first blew audiences minds away. Times change and glory days can only be remembered for what they were, never truly duplicated (only adapted). Each generation, however, has their own “glory days,” as seen during Orlando’s 2017 Star Wars Celebration.
An outpouring of love regarding the Prequels, especially towards Hayden Christensen, from millennials, was a surprise to older fans. For those who grew up on the Prequels, it’s their favorite set of movies in the Star Wars franchise — forever changing the landscape of what is considered “pure” in Star Wars lore.
Future Of Purity In Star Wars
The Star Wars franchise is likely to remain a pop-culture phenomenon for many generations to come. Nobody is doubting this. But as it continues to grow and expand, its important for Disney and Lucasfilm to maintain a “purity for their characters.” Easter eggs, weapons, and costumes are fun to talk about and explore. But the franchise isn’t worth anything if there’s no heart and soul attached to the characters donning those costumes and weapons.
What are your thoughts on based on the statement made by Tony Gilmore? Is there a lack of “purity” in the present trilogy? Let us know in the comments below. “May the Force be with you, always.”