Colin Trevorrow is a man in demand, but somewhere between Jurassic World and Star Wars: Episode IX, he’s managed to helm The Book Of Henry. The director chats to Susan Griffin.
Colin Trevorrow’s only 40 but he’s already achieved immense success - co-writing and directing 2015’s Jurassic World, penning its sequel Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which is due for release next year, and helming Star Wars: Episode IX, which is pencilled in for 2019.
The dad-of-two has also found time to direct the drama The Book Of Henry starring Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher and Jacob Tremblay. It tells the story of a mother who’s given instructions by her precocious son on how to rescue the girl next door from her abusive stepfather. Here, the American film-maker talks about what drew him to the project, how he feels about the critical reception, and rewriting Episode 9 following Carrie Fisher’s death.
Is it true you were being fought over by Steven Spielberg for Jurassic World and the producers of The Book Of Henry?
I think it [the fight] was internally, mostly in my own head. I was fighting over my desire to tell this story, which was very strong. I know there was something elemental in this that just grabbed on to me; the idea of the legacy of a child would be to save another child who’s in danger and to carry on the deeds of another. And yet Jurassic World was an extraordinary opportunity.
What was it that appealed to you about the The Book Of Henry?
To me the movie is a sort of fever dream of our worst fears as parents and the thing that grabbed me the most is really I have a sense right now of not really knowing where the next danger is going to come from when it comes to my children and to my family.
And [also] the idea that we won’t all necessarily become parents the minute we have a child, sometimes it happens later. I find although it’s called The Book Of Henry, Naomi Watts is the main character and she changes hugely over the course of the film and ultimately finds her compass as a parent. Even though our kids are smarter than us - mine certainly are - I’ve been alive longer than them and I have to make sure they benefit from that wisdom, whatever it is.
We’re all winging it and trying to figure it out as we go along. I think we probably wouldn’t want anyone else to know how often we screw up as parents.
What do you think of the critics’ reaction, which has been particularly harsh?
All I know is this: I know audiences have responded extremely positively to the movie and that’s something we knew from having screened it beforehand.
Is it tougher when you’ve enjoyed so much success?
I feel like if you’re going to take on something like this you have to [have a thick skin].
What was it like going from this relatively small drama to writing the Jurassic World sequel?
I guess you could say there was a bit of a schizophrenic nature to that but you know, I don’t find them that far apart. Jurassic movies tend to start in a place of solace and safety and calm and by the time you get to the end...
What can we expect from the Jurassic World sequel?
There is going to be teeth, but it’s definitely a more character-based film and the surprises and turns in the movie are character-based, they’re not necessarily dinosaur-based, and I think that’s a bit of a first for Jurassic movies. It’s not really how they’ve been constructed in the past and I hope audiences are willing to go to that place with us. I feel like we have to keep changing or else no-one’s going to come back.
Is it true Carrie Fisher was due to have a starring role in Star Wars: Episode IX?
That was very sadly true. She had a major role in the film and it’s something we had to deal with emotionally at first and now we’ve had to deal with it in very practical ways and in a form of storytelling we know is going to honour her and keep her soul alive, but it is an unfortunate reality that we’re just going to have to handle. It’s been tough emotionally - and logistically we’ll figure that part out, but she was just very important to the Star Wars family and that was the hardest part.
The Book Of Henry is in cinemas now