While speaking at the third annual GLAS Animation Festival Friday in Berkeley, Calif., Phil Lord and Chris Miller revealed the credit they elected to take on “Solo: A Star Wars Story” after their shocking mid-production exit as directors of the movie last year.
The directors, who also helmed “The Lego Movie” and “21 Jump Street,” said they’re taking an executive producer credit on the “Star Wars” spinoff.
“We were really proud of the many contributions we made to that film,” Miller told the audience. “In light of the creative differences, we elected to take an executive producer credit.”
Ron Howard took the helm of directing the film once Lord and Miller left the project. The duo added that they wished everyone working on the film the best.
Miller and Lord used their GLAS panel Friday to retell their career from meeting in high school to their latest projects. Starting with their very first animated show “Clone High,” a lot of their early work involved learning by doing. “We were scared to death,” Lord recalled. “We did a lot of things wrong, but it was a crash course.”
The same process of hands-on learning repeated itself on “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” their first animated feature. “We didn’t understand feature animation culture,” said Miller, but added that working on the movie told them not only about the inner workings of a studio, but also the importance of actually telling a story with an emotional arc. “They forced us to work on the script in a much more thoughtful way,” he said about their work with Sony Pictures. “What we really learned was that movies are actually about relationships.”
When the duo began working on their first live-action feature with “21 Jump Street,” they had to once again learn the craft all over again. “Every step of the way, we were just pretending that we knew what we were doing,” joked Miller. This led to a much more collaborative approach. “Our job as directors was to be the stewards of the tone and the story,” he said.
At the same time, the duo confessed to being very critical about their own work until the very last minute. “If you fall in love with this stuff, then you can be kind of blind to its faults,” Miller said. Ultimately, making good movies was just a constant churn, and not about being a genius, said Lord, adding jokingly: “You don’t have to have Jedi dust in your veins.”
“Solo,” which opens May 25, is a standalone film set before the events of the original 1977 “Star Wars” and stars Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, and Donald Glover.
Lord and Miller’s departure in the midst of production shocked Hollywood last summer. Their exit was announced after months of reported conflict between them and producer Kathleen Kennedy, others from her LucasFilm team, and co-writer and executive producer Lawrence Kasdan.
“Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this cliché is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew,” said Lord and Miller at the time.
Kennedy said in her statement: “Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented filmmakers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew, but it’s become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we’ve decided to part ways.”
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