Colin Trevorrow traveled to the Ischia Global Film and Music Fest this weekend to receive the fest’s Breakout Director award. He introduced his recent work The Book of Henry to Italian audiences on Friday, calling the film "a piece of art" and, for him, "purely artistic expression."
The director — who also helmed Safety Not Guaranteed and Jurassic World — also thanked Italy for its history of supporting the arts and said, "In America right now, it is difficult to make art."
Stateside, The Book of Henry has been widely panned, with a current 23 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But because Trevorrow will next helm Star Wars: Episode IX, the bad reviews dominated the Hollywood news cycle after its release, with many critics and Star Wars fans questioning online if Trevorrow is the right person for the job.
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Trevorrow said he hopes fans know he's the right man for the job. "Not only did I grow up on these stories, like all of us did, [but] I think that the values of Star Wars are values that I hold very close and very dear in my life," he explained. "I feel that the message of the way that the Force teaches you to treat other people and show respect for others, and the way it guides you through life, is really important to me. And I hope everybody would realize that that set of stories has affected me as deeply in my life as it has affected them."
The weight of tackling something with such cultural significance as Star Wars is not lost on him. "I think the challenge for me is to recognize that everyone has their own personal relationship with these stories, and it’s different depending on who you are," he said. "And I need to make a film that you’ll appreciate, even if your experience with it was different, which is making something that will be deeply emotionally resonant and satisfying for people all around the world. And I think about it a lot."
In response to Phil Lord and Christopher Miller's recent exit from the untitled Han Solo film over creative differences, Trevorrow critiqued the tabloid response to the fallout. "Movies are very personal, and art is very personal, and for people to try to turn that into something that is salacious or something that will get clicks is frustrating and sad for me because I know that [movies] mean a lot to everyone involved," he said. "And everybody involved in that movie is passionate about it and worked on it very hard and continues to work on it very hard."
He went on to stress that filmmaking for him is a team effort. "There tends to be a lot of assumptions made about control, but the reality is, it’s a collaboration," he said. "It’s not me locked in a room with the producers trying to get in and me saying, ‘I’m making my decisions!’ It is a much more collaborative process. I think that except for very, very rare circumstances, there is no such thing as final cut anymore. And I think the best-case scenario for any film is that the producer and the writer and the director are all on the same page and making the same movie."
"I’ve been fortunate enough in all the films that I’ve made so far that we haven’t had internal conflicts, as far as the movie that we were making. That can happen, and I know that’s frustrating for all involved when it does," he added. “That’s not a situation I’m involved in.”
Trevorrow told THR about the influence that Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy has had on his career. “Kathy is someone who has been a mentor my entire life, but I didn’t know it until I started working with her, and I saw how much of her soul and of her storytelling skill and her ability to read into the humanity of an individual goes into the films that she makes and how much of what I’ve loved about so many of those films came from her,” he said. "It’s something that I learn more about everyday. At this moment, she is really my key collaborator in what I’m doing, along with a group that she has built of incredible thinkers and storytellers. It’s going to certainly result in a movie very different from any that I’ve ever made because it’s not just me. It’s a group of people who deeply care about it."
The director also explained that he travels as much as possible so he can absorb the experiences of people around the world to guide his filmmaking. “I make a lot of my choices not just [based] on what I want to see, but what I know my son and my daughter want to see and what other people I meet will want to see,” he said. “I’m always listening.”
Star Wars: Episode IX begins production in 2018 with a planned 2019 release date.