Brad Bird may not have been a household name a few years ago, but he’s well on his way now. After leading the charge on Pixar’s The Incredibles before the shift to live-action with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Bird’s connections to both Disney and producer Kathleen Kennedy meant that when word of Star Wars: Episode VII got out, his name topped the list.
Rumors that Bird’s upcoming film Tomorrowland was in fact Episode VII in disguise were dashed when J.J. Abrams was handed the reins to the Star Wars name, but now the director is now opening up about what almost was, and how his work with Pixar may be far from over.
In speaking with THR, Bird confirmed that he was approached to direct Star Wars: Episode VII before producer Kathleen Kennedy convinced Abrams to take the job. Bird explained that it wasn’t pressure that caused him to pass on the opportunity, while hinting his next film will be one to watch out for:
“I’ve known Kathy for a while and I know George. And 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.”
So far almost nothing is known about Tomorrowland beyond a title and its sci-fi slant, but Bird’s commitment to making it a reality certainly speaks volumes about its potential. His recent flair for both action and large-scale blockbusters hasn’t just gotten Tom Cruise’s stamp of approval, but has clearly landed him within Disney’s inner circle of directors – an elite group, to say the least. With his vision for Mission: Impossible proving to not only be successful, but offer arguably the most action-packed installment yet, there’s no reason to think a Brad Bird-helmed Star Wars film isn’t a very real possibility.
Given his past collaborations with Kennedy, who – make no mistake – is the one with the keys to Star Wars in her pocket, and the fact that he’s already been considered, it seems a no-brainer. If Tomorrowland turns out to be a hit for the studio, we’d expect an announcement fairly soon after release, if not before. Of course, Bird may have another film in mind if he’s going to be returning to past franchises.
With sequels coming for both Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo, it was only a matter of time before Bird was asked if a follow-up to The Incredibles was just a pipe-dream for fans, or a very real possibility. It should come as no surprise given just how good the superhero/family film was, but Bird reveals that the thought of a sequel has occurred to him:
“I have been thinking about it. People think that I have not been, but I have. Because I love those characters and love that world. I am stroking my chin and scratching my head. I have many, many elements that I think would work really well in another [Incredibles] film, and if I can get ‘em to click all together, I would probably wanna do that.
“I like the idea of moving a little more quickly in films. I’m looking for ways to accelerate the pace a little bit and figure out a way to keep creative control over these movies to a level where I’m comfortable with the end result but also speed them up a bit and make more of them. I have many different films I wanna make. It’s like a big airplane hangar and I have different projects on the floor; half-assembled in my brain. I’m interested in all of them. You kind of have to move on the ones people are willing to pay for and the ones you’re most excited about.”
The ability to pick up the pace or delegate authority to get films completed is something Bird would be wise to learn, with Disney’s movie-making business set to pick up steam in a big way. To the Comic-Con crowd, placing a Marvel, Star Wars, or Pixar film in the hands of Brad Bird would be one of the safest bets around; only time will tell which, if any, comes first.
Do you hope to see Bird offered the chance at a Star Wars movie in the future? If so, would you like him to share the burden of numbered ‘Episodes’ with Abrams, or take over a spin-off film instead? Neither? Sound off in the comments.
Tomorrowland opens in theaters on December 19th, 2014.
‘Pixar Leia’ Art by Phil Postma