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Josh Trank Explains His Decision to Leave ‘Star Wars’ Spinoff

Josh Trank has cited the pressures of directing the “Star Wars” spinoff, following four years of work on “Fantastic Four,” as the key reason for dropping out of the Disney-Lucasfilm project a month ago.

In his first public interview since the May 1 announcement, Trank told the Los Angeles Times that he wants to do a lower profile project rather than a “Star Wars” movie after working on Fox’s “Fantastic Four.”

“I want to do something original after this because I’ve been living under public scrutiny, as you’ve seen, for the last four years of my life,” he told the newspaper. “And it’s not healthy for me right now in my life. I want to do something that’s below the radar.”

Trank’s statement on May 1 said only that he made a “personal decision to move forward on a different path. I’ve put a tremendous amount of thought into this, and I know deep down in my heart that I want to pursue some original creative opportunities.”

He told the Times that he had hoped there would be no lingering fallout from the decision to leave the “Star Wars” movie. That has not been the case, Trank asserted.

“At first I was like, ‘I’m just not going to say anything because it will blow over,’” he said. “But I was shocked – it just hasn’t blown over. People get so excited to raise their pitchforks. I knew that this was going to be questioned and it was going to come under skepticism as to why I left ‘Star Wars.’ And it was hard. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life.”

Speculation emerged following the announcement that Trank been fired from the “Star Wars” film due to erratic behavior on the set of “Fantastic Four” and that a rift had opened up between Trank and “Fantastic Four” producer and co-writer Simon Kinberg — also a producer on the “Star Wars” spinoff. Trank denied those rumors, as did Kinberg, who was also there for the Times’ interview.

“None of those facts were true – and any of the facts that were true were spun in such a maliciously wrong way,” Trank said.

Kinberg noted that Trank’s vision for “Fantastic Four” persuaded him to sign on to produce that  project. “This, I would say, is particularly cruel,” Kinberg said of the rumors. “I haven’t really seen this level of vehemence against a filmmaker. And it’s surreal and unfair.”

Trank also said he and Kimberg have become “closer” friends as a result.

“It feels sometimes like I’m living in a Paddy Chayefsky script or something like that,” he said. “Every misconception that could possibly be made about this has been made to a hilariously satirical degree. And it’s people who haven’t met me before. If they met me – I don’t know, I feel like I’m a pretty harmless person.”

Trank’s exit wasn’t a total shock. Less than two weeks before, the “Chronicle” director was a no-show to Disney’s Star Wars Celebration at the last minute, prompting Internet speculation that something was afoot. The 30 year-old quickly apologized on Twitter, telling fans that he was sick with the flu.

The untitled “Star Wars” movie is not expected to be released until 2019 as the second of two standalone movies that Disney and Lucasfilm are developing. Gareth Edwards’ spinoff “Rogue One,” starring Felicity Jones, opens on Dec. 16, 2016.

“Fantastic Four,” starring Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Michael B. Jordan, will be released Aug. 7.

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