The Real Reason Josh Trank Walked Away From Star Wars

Last month, director, Josh Trank did something which legions of fans and probably loads of filmmakers could not possibly ever conceive doing: he walked away from Star Wars. Well, one of the planned spinoff films, anyway. The story quickly snowballed into an assortment of unseemly rumors surrounding his exit. Now, Trank is speaking out, looking to set the record straight, and the reality is that he needs some time away from extreme public scrutiny.

In an interview with The LA Times Trank finally goes on record about the circumstances of his perplexing exit from the Star Wars spinoff project. Vehemently denying rumors such as those claiming he behaved erratically during the shoot of his upcoming effort, Fantastic Four, or supposed issues with writer/producer, Simon Kinberg, Trank cites more personal reasons. According to Trank:

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

Trank claims to have had a great working relationship with Lucasfilm, and that his friendship with Simon Kinberg only grew during the filmmaking process for Fantastic Four, as well as his never-realized run helming the Star Wars spinoff. In fact, his explanation seems to fall in line with the reason given in the initial public statement announcing his exit, which cited Trank’s desire to pursue "original creative opportunities." We can probably venture that Trank, still a relatively young (31 year-old) director with not too many projects garnered on his CV, may be experiencing a bit of burnout relating to the meticulous, sometimes asinine expectations that are required when tackling established popular franchises.

Josh Trank made quite a statement in 2012 with his feature film debut in the innovatively unorthodox low-budget "kids with superpowers" type film Chronicle. Powered mostly by buzz, the film garnered $126.6 million globally on a $12 million budget investment. Trank quickly found his directorial dance card full of offers such as Fox’s upcoming reboot of Fantastic Four, and the ultimate dream of every movie geek, a chance to direct a Star Wars film. Trank rode that wave for a few years, but it appears that behind the scenes, he was being pushed to his limit.

As the process would unfold, it seems that his limited experience with a significantly larger collaborative process would start to catch up to his meteoric success. He may have been unprepared for the level of studio/producer/writer micromanagement that tends to occur with giant studio films. In the case of Fantastic Four, Trank would learn about a more scathing kind of scrutiny from the public after altering aspects of the mythology (notably Johnny Storm/Human Torch’s ethnicity), as well as generalized criticism over the apparent stylistic choices showcased in the trailers.

Understandably, the pressure was becoming problematic and, as he stated, "not healthy." After having wrapped Fantastic Four, Trank is still in the midst of enduring all the enquiry, both public and private over the project even before it hits theaters in August. Thus, walking into the franchise of all franchises with Star Wars, one can imagine that the pressures and the scrutiny will only increase exponentially. After having been attached to the project for a year, perhaps, Trank saw that this prospective dream job had become a poisoned gift.

Details about the project to which Trank was formerly attached are still a mystery. However, the general belief is that it will be a gritty, space-western type film taking place amidst the galaxy’s seedy underbelly – specifically focusing on bounty hunter, Boba Fett and smuggler-turned Rebel hero, Han Solo. Tellingly, more experienced names like Iron Man helmer Jon Favreau and X-Men: First Class and Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn are currently floating in the rumor ether for Trank’s old job.

At this stage we don’t know who will wind up taking the job, but director Gareth Edwards will be kicking off the spinoff assortment of Star Wars titles with Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One on December 16, 2016. Of course, that one comes about a year after Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which will hit on December 18 of this year.