Thursday, June 15, 2017

Trevorrow opens 'Book,' but dreams about galaxies far away

A lot of people talk about their big dreams these days, but it's extremely rare to meet someone whose huge ambitions really do come true.

Last week, 40-year-old writer/director/producer Colin Trevorrow came through northeast Ohio to talk about his latest film, "The Book of Henry," a very small movie compared to the anticipated blockbusters and sequels dotting the big-screen landscape during these warm viewing months.

Trevorrow seems content with a busy future.
Regardless, the Fandango movie site, among others, calls "Henry" this summer's "most anticipated thriller," and that's likely because Trevorrow, the dreamer with the track record of getting things done -- and very successfully -- is directing it.

The Oakland-raised youngster, who sang with the San Francisco Opera Chorus, later interned at NBC's "Saturday Night Live" while attending NYU, and just a few years later wrote and directed a short film ("Home Base") that eventually enjoyed more than 20 million online hits, has become THE Man to co-write and direct "Star Wars: Episode IX," now set for a trilogy-ending debut in May 2019.

"So, Colin," we asked, "in all of your wildest dreams, did you ever imagine that some day you would play such an important role in the 'Star Wars' saga?"

"It's weird," THE Man answers, "but it's like yes and no, because that's what wildest dreams are for. So, yes, in my wildest dreams I did imagine it, but there was a moment when they announced that they were doing these new 'Star Wars' movies that wasn't exactly a spiritual moment, but it went pretty deep, and I felt that I had to do this and, so, would do anything it takes to evidence that I can actually do it."

That "evidence" came up in spades in 2015 when Trevorrow followed-up his small sci-fi comedy, "Safety Not Guaranteed," by directing and co-writing (with college pal Derek Connolly) the massively budgeted "Jurassic World," which now, by the way, ranks as the fourth highest grossing film of all time at a remarkable $1.671 billion.

"Of course, I always loved the 'Jurassic Park' franchise," Trevorrow recalls, "so when they came to me with what was essentially 'Jurassic Park 4' and I was always a 'Star Wars' kid, anyway, my own thought process became: 'OK, if I do this well, and I make a film that shows that I can do this, then maybe I can get 'Star Wars.' So, 'Jurassic World' was really an audition."

 Certainly, that's nice work if you can get it. As a result, Trevorrow has moved his wife and two children (ages 4 and 8) from their Vermont home to what likely will become a three-year residence on "a really beautiful farm in the country (near London) with horses, and chickens and cows and rabbits around us all the time."

That's because, in addition to the much-discussed 'Star Wars' gig taking him there, he is also co-writing (again with Connolly) and executive-producing the untitled "Jurassic World" sequel, which began shooting in England last year for release next summer.

"The Book of Henry" family: Watts, Tremblay, Lieberher

Meanwhile, a theater filled with rabid movie fans warmly received Trevorrow's "The Book of Henry," when it was shown last Wednesday night at the Cinemark in Valley View. Believe it or not, it was the first public screening of the film, which opens Friday.

"I made a request that I could take this film to cities that were not just New York and L.A. to talk to people everywhere because I really feel like it can connect with audiences everywhere," Trevorrow explains. "I like to drive around the country and meet different kinds of people. I think it's important, especially for a filmmaker, to understand your audience and their needs and what their lives are right now because their lives are always changing."

In "Henry," Naomi Watts stars as a single mom with two sons, one the bordering-on-genius 11-year-old title character (played by Jaeden Lieberher of "St. Vincent" fame) and his adoring younger brother (little Jacob Tremblay from "Room").

"This was a very special film for Naomi because she has two boys of her own," Trevorrow says, "In fact, though, I think this movie has values that we all share. We have children, and we have fears about their safety, and we all live in the same world that is very scary and dangerous right now. In the same way that maybe a Grimm fairytale might address the darkness in the world in a sort of fable-like way, I think this movie allows us to confront those fears."

May the Force remain with us all.

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