During the scramble to find a director to helm Star Wars: The Force Awakens, one name seemed to be as popular with the public at large as it was with studio executives. Brad Bird was that name, as his marquee appeal and mastery of storytelling landed him a plum spot on the short list of directors being offered the chance to resurrect the saga told in a galaxy far away. Yet despite the wishes of fans and Disney personnel, Bird had to turn the job down due to his commitment to Tomorrowland, which as it turns out was more serious than we thought at that point.
Yahoo recently sat down with Bird to discuss Tomorrowland, the project he developed instead of jumping on board with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Naturally, that choice came back to revisit him in the form of this interview, and his reasoning behind passing up an obviously choice gig was clearer than he's ever lead on. Hhe stated:
"There was no way to do that film [Star Wars] without junking this film, and we had already gotten George Clooney involved, and I was excited about this film. I understand they had to get [The Force Awakens] made, and they would’ve had to push it in order for me to do it."
Clearly, Disney wanted Brad Bird to direct Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Not only was he a natural pick for the film's directorial short list, but they even offered to push back the film's overall schedule, just so he could step in and do his magic. Previously, Bird did mention that he thought he could do Tomorrowland and Star Wars: The Force Awakens one right after the other, but alas this was not the case. Bird was faced with a choice not only for himself, but also for Star Wars fans.
However, Bird is as much of a fan as the rest of the Star Wars ranks, and to push back the long-awaited return of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia would have been too much of a hardship, even for him. Not to mention, he single-handedly signed George Clooney on to a Disney film that probably would never have gotten made without either of them. Tomorrowland would have died on the vine had Brad Bird abandoned it, and even he knew that. Star Wars: The Force Awakens, on the other hand, would have undoubtedly happened no matter what. So for the sake of their relationship, and on behalf of the scores of Star Wars fans waiting patiently, Brad Bird abdicated the geek throne to J.J. Abrams, and the rest was history.
Tomorrowland opens its doors to the public on May 22nd, while Star Wars: The Force Awakens makes itself known on December 18th.