Simon Kinberg Talks “Star Wars Rebels,” “X-Men: Apocalypse,” Working With J.J. Abrams, And More

simon kinberg star wars rebels

Though Simon Kinberg is most known for writing the last few sequels to the X-Men film franchise, the scribe also was tasked with writing the drafts for the new Star Wars films including its spinoffs.  And it is that connection that allowed LucasFilms president Kathleen Kennedy to hire him to be an executive producer for Star Wars Rebels, which can be seen this fall on Disney XD.  The new animated show centers on the Galactic Empire hunting down the remaining Jedi Knights, and any rebels who might be helping them.   This would be the first animated series since Disney had acquired LucasFilms a few years back.  Kinberg is in town to not only celebrate the show which is being teased at San Diego Comic-Con, but to also help promote the Disney XD’s animated show.

In our roundtable interview with the executive producer, Kinberg talks about setting up the tone of the new series, what will make this one stand out and how it differs from Rebels, working with Lucas Film, how would an X-Men and Star Wars cross would look like if if could happen, and a little bit about who the Four Horsemen in X-Men: Apocalypse could be.  Hit the jump for more.

Can you tell us how this Star Wars fits into the mythology, now that Clone Wars is over?

Simon Kinberg: I think Clone Wars is more akin to the prequels, where Rebels is more connected to the original mythology, both in the timeline in which it takes place, and in terms of the tone. I think Clone Wars is more story driven, slightly darker show; and I think rebels is a slightly more character driven, lighter, more aspirational show the way the original movies were. And that’s really the inspiration for the show to tell an origins story of characters. It’s very connected to the mythology, it’s a generation away, it will lead very naturally and quickly into new hope. You’ll see because of cameos, it would have to. We have characters that are roughly the same age as they would be in a live-action if they were in Episode IV.

Will the tone always be light?

The show will have moments of real darkness The villains are really hardcore scary villains. Sort of light in the general scheme of Star Wars. Clone Wars took place in the middle of a war, it had war in the title. So does this, but it is a beginning of a new war, it is a beginning of a new rebellion. It doesn’t feel like you are deep into years of oppression and battle. So from the begging for us the inspiration tonally, visually, emotionally was New Hope and Empire. We kept focusing on that, how do we tell – create a new story, a whole new set of characters that could fit into Episodes VI, V, and VI, and that was what was most exciting to me.

What is it that the Inquisitor and Sabine that would make them stand out in the Star Wars Universe?

Some of it is there specific character stories. As we built the show, one of the things I love about new hope, we met this characters that really complex back stories, some of which you didn’t learn until you saw the other movies, even the prequels. But you felt it, you felt they had a real history together. And so we spent a lot of time – I never worked on a TV show, much less an animated – anything, so it was a big learning curve for me. So I spent a lot of time building the back stories for characters, and you see evidence of that throughout the first season, the specifics of the Inquisitor story, what led them to this place, definitely Sabine, are rich and complex stories that would differentiate them from any other character. And certainly her attitude is different than any Madaolorian we have ever seen. She has a more sparky, rebellious, and fun side to her, despite having a darker history.

Clone Wars a lot of bounty hunter characters on that show, can we maybe see more of them in this one?

Maybe. It’s a world that Dave and I love, and actually the crime world of Star Wars That is one of my favorite things about Star wars, the bounty hunters, and Jabba, what you don’t see in other science fiction movies, if in fact Star Wars is a science fiction movie, you don’t really see the underworld in science fiction movies. It is usually clean ships, and alien races, I just love that world. So I say that the answer is yes, we will see that.

Are you pushing the cinematic feel of Star Wars into Rebels, is that something you saw that was important to do?

Yes, I think that is the reason why Kathleen [Kennedy] brought this to me, I started to work with them on the features, and it was a few months into the process that Kathy – she knows I have a five year old and a nine year old son, and she knows – especially my older one who is a big clone wars fan, we were talking to Disney about doing a TV show, and she asked if I was interested. I think the reason she was interested in my was because of my film background. She said she wanted me to bring what I did on a character level, on a story level, to an animated show, and to give it the kind of scope and scale that Star Wars entity demands, but most animated shows don’t have.

So just a fun question, what if X-Men crossover into Star Wars?

I think just because he is my favorite character, Magneto. I would put him in the original trilogy. Where would they cross over, the notion of Magneto and Darth Vader in a scene together is as good as it gets for me.

So now Fassbender or McKellen?

Oh right, same for Hayden Christian or James Earl Jones, but James Earl Jones Ian McKellen.

So who would win in a fight?

Well there is a lot of metal. But there is also the force.

So Force Choke or Magnetic Choke?

Well I wouldn’t put my money on the force powers.

So how has the collaborations been with the films?

It has been an interesting process for me, because I was hired a couple of years ago before J.J. [Abrams] came in, me and Michael Ardnt, and Lawrence Kasdan were hired sometime together working together on multiple movies, standalones, and sequels. With the story group over at LucasFilm, it is an amazing group of people, hardcore Star Wars fans and film minds, and that was really fun. It was like ten people in a room for a few weeks over at Skywalker [Ranch], with a writing team working on the dry erase and all of that, and it has been really smooth. I’ve known JJ for a long time, I’ve worked with as a writer before. I love him, and I am a big fan of his work, and he knows this world, it’s like in his DNA. I think even more than Star Trek, Star Wars is in his DNA. SO he’s doing a great job, and I have been involved in the process of drafting.

A quick question about the X-Men: Apocolypse. Are the Four Horsemen based on mutants we have seen before or will they be new ones?

I cannot answer you question, but they are ones we have seen before if you have read the comics. I cannot answer that. I know the answer to it, but we are still in the formal stages of figuring that out. But in truth, like everything you are developing a TV show or a movie, it could change. So I wouldn’t want to tell you one thing, and then six months from now you read somebody getting cast, oh because some focus group told them that this character was no good and it really is things change. Especially in Days of Future Past, the Quicksilver character was a young Juggernaut. When Bryan [Singer] came on, he thought the Juggeranut has already been exploited, and he didn’t think it was fresh enough. We went down the list of who is another mutant that could help Magneto escape in that sequence that could be a new visual, and he got excited about Quicksilver, because he saw this high speed photography that he wanted to use, and that became the kitchen sequence. That’s high speed photography is based on youtube clips that Bryan had seen. You just may never know, and that was a late game decision to cast young Juggernaut. There will be Four Horsemen I can tell you that.

Star Wars Rebels premieres on Disney XD in Fall 2014.

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