I had the opportunity to interview Kathleen Kennedy during the Star Wars Global Press Junket in LA. All expenses to travel were covered by Disney/ABC. All opinions are my own…yes I am a Star Wars geek! 🙂
Kathleen Kennedy Star Wars Interview – The Force Awakens
Kathleen Kennedy Star Wars Producer, Mother, and Driven! I had the opportunity to interview the cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and when I was told I would interview Kathleen Kennedy as well. When I found out, I looked at her portfolio and I was shocked that I was going to be able to not only be in the same room as this talented lady, but have the opportunity to interview her. During the interview she talked about her success, the people that have been a part of her life, and of course the movie!
After our exciting and heartwarming interview with Kathleen, I decided that I wanted to be like her when I grow up! What was so much fun is that the day I got back from the Press Junket, I went to work where I teach computers. We participated in the Star Wars Hour of Code and of course Kathleen Kennedy was on the video! This totally confirmed the fact that I want to be like her when I grow up!
I was introduced to Kathleen and she is now everywhere. She always was everywhere as a producer of so many amazing movies, but now I know her! I want all of you to know her as well!
Question: With Rey being a prominent character, did this decision to have a female lead come early on or later?
Kathleen Kennedy: It was right from the beginning. It is something that J.J. and I started talking about day one. It was really important to us. We both have daughters, so, very important.
Question: 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 and life?
Kathleen Kennedy: As you can imagine I get asked this all the time. What I end up saying is instinctually know how to make those choices at least that is 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 10 times it is 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, you know, unspoken agreement that depending on how things were shaping up we would shift responsibilities….
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 your values are and what’s important to you and, and the stage your kids are at. You know, I always talk to moms who have babies and they’re like, “Oh, if I could just get past the infant stage.” I’m like, “Oh.” [LAUGHS] So. Anyway. A learning curve.
Question: What does Star Wars personally mean to you?
Kathleen Kennedy: To me. Well, I think that what has always been very obvious to me is that George created this from a very strong personal point of view. When he made this movie New Hope in 1977, obviously he was a young man coming out of film school and he had something to say.
He didn’t step into New Hope and decide that he was gonna make some huge blockbuster movie that we would be sitting here 40 years later talking about. Um, so I think that that’s what I’ve always recognized with any of the filmmakers I work with is the, the really, really good ones, they wanna find something of themselves as a reason to tell the story. So they’re looking for something that they wanna infuse into the characters and the storytelling and the emotion of the piece. J.J. did the same thing with this movie. And as a producer, I love recognizing that in somebody and then helping to find the resources to nurture that and guide that. And when somebody can’t find that, then I get a little concerned because if somebody’s just gonna go through the motions of making a movie without having that personal connection, then usually they’re not gonna be able to excavate what’s emotionally powerful in Star Wars, or in any movie for that matter.
Question: So I heard that Bob Iger was really involved and he usually is not. So how often did you meet with him to go over the original script and storyline.
Kathleen Kennedy: He was really involved. Everything. No, absolutely everything. And the fantastic thing was oftentimes when I would be in London, which is where we shot the film. You always look at the clock when you’re working in London because you have a period of time where you’re sort of at ease ’cause you just 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.
So 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, really enjoyed it ’cause I think how often do CEOs of a company really get to touch what’s going on, you know?
They, they see bits and pieces but they sit at 30,000 feet most of the time and I think this has been a really wonderful experience for him. And for us, by the way. He’s had lots of contributions that have been great.
Question: Can you tell us about what you did on a day to day basis?
Kathleen Kennedy: Oh God. I have a very bifurcated life because I’m running the company and producing the movie. So even when I’m here in L.A. I would go, before we went to London I would go up to San Francisco two days a week and then I would come back here. And then when I got to London I set up a system where I would do video conferencing and I set up the meetings on a weekly basis so that I can maintain a connection to everybody on the executive team…
I can’t sit and say that it operates in any kind of a routine way. But I usually try to stay focused on the movies in the morning and then as, as I said, as L.A. wakes up in the afternoon I’ll move into my office and begin to make those phone calls or do those video conference connections in order to get that work done.
Then the car that I drive, I don’t drive in London. I’m terrified to drive on the other side of the road, but I have a driver. As we make our way into London, the car is set up with Wi-Fi so I sit in the back seat, open my laptop, put an earphone in my ear and start making phone calls and dealing with business. And then the hope is by the time I get home at around 8:30, 9:00 I can pretty much stop.
Every now and then if there’s a complication somewhere and I’ll be on the phone late. But I’ve gotten to the point where I can keep that pretty much under control. And this, this last series of months since August really, I’ve been in London doing Rogue One ’cause Rogue One finishes shooting on December 18th. But this time my husband is doing Bourne, a new Bourne series, so we brought our 16 year old kicking and screaming I might add to go to school in London.
She’s ended up having an absolutely fantastic time. It’s one of the best things we ever did. But that’s worked out actually quite well. And that’s affected my routine ’cause I’ve ended up where I’ve just sort of laid, just had to lay down the law that when I get home we have dinner, when I get up in the morning I go in a little bit late. I’m not there at call so I can be home when Megan is eating breakfast and get her on the bus. The great thing about his school she’s at is the bus literally comes to the door and picks her up, which has been fantastic. It’s one of the reasons we chose the house that we’re staying in.
There was so much more Kathleen Kennedy shared with us, so let me sum it up!
- Star Wars started with Kathleen was in film school and everyone was talking about the movie.
- Force for Change is a brilliant way for everyone to give back to the community.
- She has also spent years working on BFG. She shared with us how that got started.
- She also spoke about why J.J. Abrams makes the perfect directly. She mentioned his chilke quality and sense of humor and of course storytelling!
- She also shared with us how she included George Lucas.
After the interview she was very kind to take a group photo with us! Like I mentioned before, Kathleen Kennedy is an amazing successful woman and one of the MOST successful women that I have ever had the opportunity to meet!
Buy your tickets now! Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be in theaters December 18, 2015! Purchase your Fandango tickets today! When tickets were released it about broke the internet! So cities have opened up more screenings!
Heather Johnson says
Great interview! I am a recent fan of Star Wars, and I am quite excited about the newest movie!
valmg @ Mom Knows It All says
My Mom is a HUGE Star Wars fan. She is so looking forward to seeing this movie.
I think a strong female lead is so important in today’s storytelling. Love that she thinks this is important too.
That’s fun that you got to know her. And awesome now that you’re sharing her with us. 🙂
My dad love star wars so much. His favorite character is Yoda.
Rebecca Swenor says
It is nice to know that there are woman out there that make great role models for other woman. This is a movie we can’t wait to see.