In October, Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy said there’s nothing she’d like more than to see a woman direct one of the upcoming Star Wars movies. Now, her current Star Wars: The Force Awakens director, J.J. Abrams, has weighed in with one filmmaker he’d like to see enlisted for the gig.
“One name that immediately comes to mind is Ava DuVernay, who I thought did just a mind-blowingly great job with Selma,” Abrams told Yahoo Movies (watch above). “And getting to know her a little since that movie… she is such a fan of genre films and storytelling.”
Abrams added that there are many qualified candidates who fit the bill (just see Vulture’s recent list of 100 female directors who Hollywood should be hiring more), but that the 43-year-old DuVernay is his “knee-jerk reaction, because she loves the world so much and loves this genre and is such a talented storyteller. So if I had a say in this, which I don’t, I’d give her whatever she wants.”
DuVernay’s fandom for the series was on full display in October when she countered the racially motivated #BoycottStarWarsVII hashtag circulated by those upset with the new film’s diverse cast of heroes by encouraging Twitter to use #CelebrateStarWarsVII instead. Her genre cred extends back to publicity and promotional work she did on films like Spy Kids (2001), Spider-Man 2 (2004), and I, Robot (2004), and earlier this year she was in talks with another Disney unit, Marvel, about potentially directing its 2018 standalone entry Black Panther before parting ways with the studio.
While Star Wars Episodes VII-IX are all spoken for (with Abrams, Rian Johnson, and Colin Trevorrow at the reins, respectively) as well as the first two spinoffs (with Gareth Edwards handling next year’s Rogue One and Chris Miller and Phil Lord teaming up for an upcoming Han Solo origin story), there is still at least one occupancy in the universe after Fantastic Four filmmaker Josh Trank exited the still-untitled 2019 spinoff focusing on the adventures of Boba Fett.
A Star Wars helming gig wouldn’t mark the first time DuVernay has made history. Though she was snubbed by the Academy Awards in the Best Director category for last year’s acclaimed Martin Luther King Jr. drama Selma, she did become the first black female filmmaker to have her movie nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.
As for if Abrams thinks DuVernay would take the job? “I don’t know. I would hope so, as a fan.”
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens Dec. 18.
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