Former 'Star Wars' Standalone Writer: "I Don't Think I've Ever Worked Harder on Anything"

Gary Whitta, original screenwriter for the 2016 movie, called the experience "humbling and daunting"
Gary Whitta, original screenwriter for the 2016 movie, called the experience "humbling and daunting"

Book of Eli screenwriter Gary Whitta might no longer be working on the first Star Wars standalone movie of the Disney era — he left the project earlier this year — but his time on the project was an overwhelming, if rewarding, experience, he suggested in a new interview.

“I think any time you’re dealing with something that has some personal significance to you, you instinctively approach it with a great degree of appreciation and respect,” Whitta told /Film. “I grew up with Star Wars, it played a pivotal role in setting me on my lifelong course as a writer, so to have the opportunity to contribute a new piece to the ongoing legacy of that is both humbling and daunting.”

Humbling, daunting and perhaps just a little difficult. “I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder on anything or with more conviction and commitment, and that includes my own original projects, which I never thought I’d hear myself say,” he explained. “If you ask my wife she’d tell you I was not the easiest person to live with while I was working on it because I was unable to think about anything else the vast majority of the time.”

Which wasn’t to say it was unrewarding; Whitta said that the opportunity allowed him the chance to “meet and work alongside people I consider legends in the movie business and personal heroes of mine, so it was certainly unique in that aspect.”

Whitta left the as-yet-untitled Star Wars project in January, saying in an official statement that his time on the movie had been “by far the most rewarding period of my entire career,” adding that he was “deeply grateful to have had the rare opportunity to contribute to a new chapter” in the Star Wars series. He was not the first writer for Disney's relaunched franchise to leave early; Michael Arndt left Star Wars: The Force Awakens midway through the process, to be replaced by Lawrence Kasdan and director J.J. Abrams.

Chris Weitz has been hired as the new writer for the feature, to be directed by Gareth Edwards, with the movie remaining scheduled for a Dec. 16, 2016 release.

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