Gary Whitta Talks Star Wars Spin-Off

Ryan Leston
UK Movies Writer

Although the first ‘Star Wars’ spin-off remains shrouded in secrecy, writer Gary Whitta has revealed what it was like to work in the galaxy far, far away.

It’s every ‘Star Wars’ fan’s dream job – writing the next chapter in the ‘Star Wars’ universe. But while the upcoming spin-off film is being held under wraps for the time being, I caught up with writer Gary Whitta for a quick chat.

But what could he tell me about the ‘Star Wars’ spin-off?

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“Absolutely nothing at all, I’m afraid,” he said.

Obviously, being the writer of the next ‘Star Wars’ film comes with plenty of responsibility – chiefly, keeping it under your hat until the big announcements have been made. But he was able to share what it was like to work in the galaxy far, far away.

“It was absolutely surreal,” he explained. “I loved every minute of it.”

“Star Wars was undoubtedly one of the most important formative influences on me as a child,” he said. “It’s absolutely one of the main reasons why I became a writer and pursued a career in film, so to have had an opportunity to contribute something to the next chapter of its on-going legacy is just insane. I feel incredibly privileged to have worked on it.”

Of course, Mark Hamill recently described the new ‘Star Wars’ movies as being the first to be written and directed by the ‘fan generation’. And along with ‘Star Wars VII’ director J.J. Abrams, Gary Whitta certainly seems to fit the bill.

And luckily for him, he got to work alongside some of his ‘Star Wars’ heroes.

“Every movie is a collaborative process,” he explained. “Star Wars was a little different in that I got to collaborate with people who are heroes of mine, who were part of creating the Star Wars movies I grew up loving. So that was a very special and unique experience for me.”

After handing in his final draft at the end of the year, Gary has since gone on to sign up for Mark Millar’s ‘Starlight’ – a project which will see him adapting the sci-fi comic book that gained critical acclaim.

But perhaps his most personal project is his new novel – ‘Abomination’.

“It’s my first novel, and it’s kind of an interesting combination of historical fiction and fantasy in that it’s set in England during the dark ages, but it’s an alternate version of that history where monsters and magic exist,” he explained. “So it was really fun to be able to take elements of real ancient English history, like the reign of Alfred the Great and the Viking wars, and filter those through a more fantastical lens to create something new.”

Obviously, this couldn’t be further from his work on ‘Star Wars’. At least, on the outset.

“Basically I wanted to do a good old-fashioned monster story,” he added. “I think there’s something very primal and universal in that idea of ‘the monster within’ - whether it be Jekyll and Hyde, the Wolfman or even the Incredible Hulk. It’s really rich territory thematically and of course they’re really all stories about what it means to be human.”

‘Abomination’ is currently available to order via Inkshares. Ebook editions will be released shortly, with the hardback due sometime around May.

But while his new novel will be hitting bookshelves shortly, it’s clear that his ‘Star Wars’ work took over in a big way… and who can blame him?

“I had a very strict rule about not working on anything else while I was on Star Wars because I took my responsibility there very seriously and didn’t want to dilute my attention to it,” he said.

Of course, I couldn’t let him go without asking Gary his favourite ‘Star Wars’ film… and much like most ‘Star Wars’ fans, it turned out to be ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. But it’s his favourite moment of the original trilogy which is perhaps the most interesting.

“The Battle of Endor,” he said, “particularly when Lando leads the Rebel ships INSIDE the Death Star. I got a chill when I first saw that as a kid. And I still do today!”

Clearly, this is one of the most pivotal scenes of the original trilogy… and includes some of the most awesome space scenes as Lando almost single-handedly destroys the Death Star.

But does this mean we can expect something similar in the first ‘Star Wars’ spin-off?

For now, we’ll have to wait and see. But it’s clear that Gary Whitta is a huge fan of the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy. And I get the feeling he might just bring back some of its magic to the galaxy far, far away.

The first ‘Star Wars’ spin-off heads to cinemas on 16 December 2016.

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Picture Credit: Lucasfilm/Inkshares