According to screenwriter/filmmaker Tony Gilroy, Rogue One was in “terrible, terrible trouble” when he took over for Gareth Edwards and did substantial reshoots on the first standalone Star Wars movie. Based on his controversial comments, it seemed Gilroy has no love for George Lucas’s galaxy far, far away. During the press tour for his new feature screenplay, Beirut starring Jon Hamm, Gilroy elaborated on what he really meant in a conversation with Inverse.
Last week, Gilroy told podcaster Brian Koppelman on an episode of his podcast The Moment that he had no “reverence” for Star Wars. “I don’t like Star Wars,” he said. “I was never interested … I have no reverence for it whatsoever.”
In an interview with Inverse as part of the press tour for his new movie Beruit, Gilroy clarified his statements. While it’s still true he doesn’t love Star Wars, his reason is a lot more involved than that. “What I’m really saying, without stumbling into a Rogue One discussion, [is that] I enjoy speculative pieces. But within the framework, whether it’s pixie dust or mythology, I really like things on a molecular level to be real,” he says. “I like behavior to be real, motivations to be understandable, plot to make sense. I don’t like to have holes in my story. I like to be rigorous.”
Gilroy says that the problem with big genre like Star Wars is that the rules often fall apart. “Sometimes the problem with speculative genre is that you look at them and they’ll be vey sexy, and really imaginative, but the rules of the dystopian future or the dystopian planet don’t make any sense. I can’t function if there’s no foundation to stand on. And Rogue One had a very firm footing underneath it all, which was sacrifice.”
Given that Gilroy said the early cut of the film was in dire straights before he came aboard for reshoots, it’s unclear how much of that “firm footing” shone through before he took a stab at the film.
Gilroy’s latest screenwriting feature, Beirut, is indicative of his convictions. Taking place not on Tattooine but in the Middle Eastern city during the Lebanese Civil War, the film stars Jon Hamm as Skiles, a U.S. diplomat who lost his family in Beirut. Ten years later, Skiles is dragged back to negotiate the release of another government official from the clutches of a terrorist. Unfortunately for Skiles, the job is a lot more personal than he anticipated.
“On a macro sense what drove me [to write this story] was I was being offered the opportunity to do a serious film about a serious topic,” he says. “You wanna go where, you look for things to do you haven’t done before. It helps change your life. This was gonna be a life-changing experience if I could pull it off.”
Citing inspirations from writers like Robert Stone and John le Carré, Gilroy was in love with the idea “of the wounded hero in need of redemption in a really interesting, exotic place under extreme circumstances.” Thus became Beirut, though one can’t help that a rag-tag group of rebels defying a galactic Empire is also an exotic place with extreme circumstances.
Beirut is in theaters now.