Before J.J. Abrams was crowned as the director of Star Wars: Episode VII, there were many other genre directors rumored for the coveted job. Star Wars fans wanted the likes of Guillermo del Toro, Edgar Wright, or Joss Whedon, but ultimately the Mouse House went with Abrams. Another very popular fan choice was director Brad Bird, who turned down the job to direct the upcoming Tomorrowland instead.
In an interview with THR, Bird reveals why he said “no” to Lucasfilm and the Star Wars job. Apparently, Disney did approach him, but he declined their offer because of scheduling issues. Bird explains:
They did come to me. But the problem was, the schedule they had in mind made it impossible to do…unless I dropped Tomorrowland. And I was just really deeply into this film at that point. It’s easy to say, ‘Just put it on hold.’ But you’re moving now; you don’t know if you’re going to be able to move later. Maybe it’s true of filmmakers like Cameron or Spielberg, but I have to act on momentum. We had reached a critical mass where it would’ve thrown the furniture around from the train stopping. I really want to see this movie. I love the Star Wars films, and I can’t wait to see what J.J. does, but it meant I’d have to shut down one dream to participate in another. I feel like [with Tomorrowland] we’re making something that’s really special and unique.
There’s something admirable about following what you believe in, but if it came down to scheduling, you turn down Tomorrowland and direct Star Wars: Episode VII instead. No matter how good Tomorrowland turns out to be, Star Wars is the biggest movie franchise in Hollywood history, so how could anyone say “no” to that? You should turn down practically anything, if only for the sweet, sweet paycheck you’d get to direct a Star Wars movie.
Brad Bird would have made a fine Star Wars movie. He made a really good transition from animation to live-action moviemaking with the 2011 sequel film Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, starring Tom Cruise. Bird made his directorial debut with the animated film The Iron Giant in 1999. Hopefully, Disney will give Brad Bird another shot at a Star Wars movie at some point down the line. If so, let’s hope he takes the job.
Tomorrowland will hit theaters everywhere on December 19, 2014. Here’s a campaign video rooting for Brad Bird to direct Star Wars: Episode VII: