When Lucasfilm announced that Josh Trank was no longer directing a Star Wars standalone film, neither party divulged the reasons why, leaving Hollywood trades to cite unnamed "sources" to provide a narrative. The Hollywood Reporter and Variety cited "erratic behavior" by Trank on the set of 20th Century Fox's Fantastic Four as a key reason, despite the two projects only connection being a shared producer, Simon Kinberg.
Now, Trank is stepping forward in a LA Times interview to combat those "maliciously wrong" reports and clarify reasoning for leaving the Star Wars film and setting straight his rumored actions on the set of Fantastic Four.
“At first I was like, ‘I’m just not going to say anything because it will blow over,’” Trank said. “But I was shocked – it just hasn’t blown over. People get so excited to raise their pitchforks. I knew that this was going to be questioned and it was going to come under skepticism as to why I left Star Wars. And it was hard. It was the hardest decision I've ever had to make in my life."
“None of those facts were true," Trank told LA Times. "And any of the facts thIm at were true were spun in such a maliciously wrong way.
"If you ask anybody by name who I’ve worked with, from Simon to [producer Hutch Parker] or my crew or anybody else, they’d be like, ‘We’ve been working really hard on this movie and we’ve had an excellent time working together,’ It’s been a challenging movie – for all of the right reasons.”
Trank did elaborate more on his decision to leave Star Wars, citing the negative fan response some of his decisions regarding the Fantastic Four movie garnered, specifically citing the casting of Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch, as to a reason why he didn't want to work on a major franchise.
“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,” he said. “And it’s not healthy for me right now in my life. I want to do something that’s below the radar.
"I have a great relationship with everyone at Lucasfilm and with Kiri Hart," Trank continued. "And they all understood it because this whole experience for me has been very psychologically hard.”
Kinberg, who is a producer on both the Star Wars movie and Fantastic Four, was named by the Hollywood trades' unidentified sources as the one who communicated reports of Trank's "erratic behavior" to Lucasfilm which led to his reported "firing."
Despire being indentified by THR's unnamed sources as the Lucasfilm's source Trank's behavior on the Fantastic Four set, Kinberg defends the director and calls the reporting and fan outrage "surreal and unfair."
“I’ve been around some version of this for a long time,” said Kinberg. “This, I would say, is particularly cruel. I haven’t really seen this level of vehemence against a filmmaker. And it’s surreal and unfair."
Trank disputes any rift between he and Kinberg, calling themselves "closer friends" due to Fantastic Four and pre-production work on the Star Wars stand-alone film.
“It feels sometimes like I’m living in a Paddy Chayefsky script or something like that,” Trank said, referring to the screenwriter of the movie Network. “Every misconception that could possibly be made about this has been made to a hilariously satirical degree. And it's people who haven't met me before. If they met me – I don't know, I feel like I'm a pretty harmless person.”