Star Wars: Episode IX has hired a new screenwriter: Jack Thorne, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
A previous draft of the script was written by Director Colin Trevorrow and his writing partner, Derek Connolly, but now Thorne has been brought on for rewrites. This comes five months before Episode IX is scheduled to begin production.
So who exactly is Jack Thorne, the new Star Wars writer? Here’s what you need to know about him.
1. He Wrote ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’
Jack Thorne is known mainly for his work on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the stage play that continued J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter story.
Although The Cursed Child is the eighth Harry Potter story, Jack Thorne, not J.K. Rowling, wrote the entire script. However, the story was a collaboration between Jack Throne, John Tiffany, and J.K. Rowling. When the script was published, it was said to be “based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne” but also that it was “a new play by Jack Thorne.”
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child received nine awards at the 2017 Laurence Olivier Awards, including Best New Play.
“Harry Potter seems to me to be a world about trust and love,” Throne said when accepting an award for The Cursed Child, according to Pottermore. “With the world becoming darker by the second it feels really beautiful to be part of a team trying to sell these ideas back to the world. I just feel hugely privileged that John and Jo let me work on this with them.”
Critical reaction to The Cursed Child was mostly positive. But within the Harry Potter fandom, reaction was mixed to negative, and so some who are fans of both Harry Potter and Star Wars have been skeptical about this hiring.
2. He Has Worked on a Number of Other Plays, Including One Starring John Boyega
Jack Thorne has worked on plenty of other stage plays aside from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
This includes his original plays When You Cure Me, Fanny and Faggot, Stacy, Burying Your Brother in the Pavement, 2 May 1997, Bunny, and Hope.
He has also written several stage adaptations. In 2013, he adapted Let The Right One In, which was staged at London’s Royal Court Theatre and then at New York’s St. Ann’s Warehouse.
Plus, earlier this year, he adapted Georg Büchner Woyzeck with The Force Awakens‘ John Boyega in the lead role. The Guardian gave the play three out of five stars, praising Boyega’s performance but saying that “Thorne bombards us with explanations for Woyzeck’s downfall.”
3. He Has Written for Shows like ‘Skins’ & Created ‘The Fades’
In addition, Jack Thorne also has experience in television. He wrote five episodes of the UK series Skins, from season one to season three. When Skins was adapted into an American show, Thorne wrote one episode of that as well.
He also wrote one episode of Shameless (not the Showtime show, but the original British series on which it was based).
In 2009, Thorne was one of the co-creators of Cast Offs, a mockumentary in which six disabled people are sent to live on an island. Later, he created The Fades, a supernatural drama series about a student who begins seeing spirits of the dead all around him. Then he created Glue, which follows the investigation of a young boy’s murder.
Most recently, in 2016, Thorne wrote a four-part British drama called National Treasure, which is about a comedian who is accused of raping a young girl. He is scheduled to adapt His Dark Materials for television.
4. He Has Written Several Films, Including ‘A Long Way Down’
Jack Thorne also has some film credits under his belt, although he has never written anything remotely as large as Star Wars: Episode IX.
The first movie Thorne ever wrote was The Scouting Book for Boys, which won him the award of Best Newcomer at the BFI London Film Festival. Then, in 2014, he wrote a film which earned attention overseas due to its cast: A Long Way Down, a comedy starring Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, and Aaron Paul. That same year, he also wrote the political drama War Book.
Plus, Thorne co-wrote the script for Wonder, an upcoming movie by Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) and starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay. Wonder will be released this November.
5. ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Also Experienced a Screenwriter Change Before Filming Began
The fact that Disney is bringing in someone new to rewrite the script for Star Wars: Episode IX is not inherently a bad sign. After all, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was also rewritten.
Originally, The Force Awakens was to be written by Michael Arndt, known for Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3. But in October 2013, Arndt exited the project, and the screenwriting duties were handed over to Lawrence Kasdan and J.J. Abrams. Arndt was reportedly removed for time reasons; he asked for another 18 months to work on the script, but Disney needed to meet its December 2015 release date, according to Rolling Stone.
With Episode IX, the script was originally going to be written by Derek Connolly and the movie’s director, Colin Trevorrow. Now, Jack Thorne has been brought in to do some rewrites. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he was brought in because “a fresh set of eyes was needed.”
It’s unclear how extensive Thorne’s rewrites will be. But it could be that Trevorrow and Connolly needed some help due to the death of Carrie Fisher. After all, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy told Entertainment Weekly that after Fisher died, they basically had to start from scratch on Episode IX since their ideas for that movie revolved so much around her.
“Obviously, with Carrie having passed away, it shook everybody,” Kennedy said. “We pretty much started over.”