Have you been following along with our exclusive interviews from the #StarWarsEvent? So far, we’ve talked with STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS stars Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega. Today, we learn lots from Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm. Kathy has been responsible for over 60 films, including 3 of the highest grossing films in motion picture history. Kathy is also a wife and mom, and she shared how she manages it all during our interview. We started with a question from a parent of a 9 year old girl:
I have a nine year old daughter who loves Star Wars. For this movie, with Rey being a prominent character, she’s so excited. Did that decision, to have a female lead, come early on in the process or was that later?
Kathy: No, it was right from the beginning. It’s something that J.J. and I started talking about day one. It was really important to us. We both have daughters, so, very important.
As a mom of a 5 year old girl, I was excited to hear that having a female lead wasn’t something that was thought about later in the development of the film. Rey, and Daisy Ridley, are going to be great role models for female Star Wars fans, and even our male counterparts.
Kathy gave this nugget about the character Rey:
This character of Rey is one of the most wonderful heroines to come along in movie history. I mean, she is great. [Young girls are] gonna have their own Luke Skywalker now.
photo credit: MomStart.com
We also asked Kathy about how she handles the work/life balance of being a mother and wife.
Regarding kids and being such a big film producer in Hollywood, do you have tips for moms that are trying to balance all of this work in life?
Kathy: Well, as you can imagine I get asked this all the time, and what I end up saying is you just instinctually know how to make those choices. At least that’s what I’ve ended up doing in the heat of the moment, I weigh what is the right thing to do. Obviously nine and a half out of the ten times it’s the family.
And you figure out what that means and then you try to find a way to have a discussion about it. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in that I have an amazing husband and we’ve both done the same thing. And for a long time, before we had kids, we worked together. Then when we had kids, we started leap-frogging and it was this, sort of, unspoken agreement that depending on how things were shaping up we would shift responsibilities.
And for the most part, we just supported one another in that as often as we could, and then we’d make it work. And some things you just sacrifice as a consequence. But I think that’s pretty normal in the course of trying to weigh how to handle a career in general, and kids just make it more complicated.
I guess what I’m getting at is there’s no cookie cutter approach to here’s what you do to balance career and family. I think it’s so much the individual, and where you’re values are and what’s important to you, and the stage your kids are at.
photo credit: MomStart.com
Bob Iger was very involved in the production of the film, which is out of character for the CEO of The Walt Disney Company. We were interested in how Mr. Iger’s steady interest affected production. Kathy says he was involved in everything. EVERYTHING.
Kathy: Oh yeah. Everything. No, absolutely everything. You always look at the clock when you’re working in London, because you have a period of time where you’re at ease ’cause you focus on getting the movie made. And then you realize L.A. is about to wake up and your whole day is gonna start over again.
Apparently, Mr. Iger was very excited about receiving the dallies and giving his input.
Kathy: At about 2:30 in the afternoon if my phone rang early, it was often Bob. He’d looked at dailies. He just wanted to check in. He was excited about something. He was absolutely involved. He’s been involved in every aspect of marketing. He’s had an absolute blast doing this with us. I think he’s really enjoyed it because how often do CEOs of a company really get to touch what’s going on, you know? He’s had lots of contributions that have been great.
What is your Star Wars story? How did it start for you?
Kathy: I was actually in film school when I saw Star Wars for the first time. So as you can imagine, it was just jaw-dropping, mind-blowing. Everybody in film school was talking about it. You realize that there was so much possible beyond anything you could imagine, once we all saw that movie. It was sort of perfectly timed.
Kathy announced recently that she and Steven Spielberg will be teaming up to bring The BFG to the big screen. The trailer has been released, and Kathy is truly excited about the project.
With Rogue One wrapping up and you have The B.F.G. coming down the pipeline, what’s it like shifting gears, from this to that?
Kathy: The B.F.G. is something that I had spent years off and on developing. [I had] many, many conversations with Steven who I kept saying, “This is really right for you.” And then, of course, within a month after I decided to take over Lucasfilm he called me up and he goes, “You know, I read the script again and I really wanna make the movie.” And I was ready to go through the phone and strangle him.
But, not only having Steven involved in this but the fact that technology has caught up with making the film is really quite spectacular. What he’s doing with this is gonna be pretty mind-blowing. Sadly, we had Melissa Mathison pass away recently. She wrote the script, and she did E.T., and so I think people are gonna be incredibly pleased with how this movie turns out.
Tomorrow, we’ll cover our interview with Oscar Isaac and Lupita Nyong’o, and you don’t want to miss it!
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STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS arrives in theaters everywhere on December 18th!