Her name may not be as familiar as Harrison Ford or Carrie Fisher. But her Hollywood legacy is as immense as the galaxy itself. Just take a look at the credits on films like
- Back to the Future
- Jurrasic Park
- The Goonies
- Schindler’s List
- Seabiscuit (one of my favorites)
She has without a doubt produced Hollywood’s BIGGEST blockbusters. As Steven Spielburg’s co-founder of Amblin Entertainment, to her current position as president of Lucas Films, Ms. Kennedy could easily be considered the queen of Hollywood. To say that I was excited to meet her is an understatement, especially because she feels like she has an obligation to GIVE BACK via charity as well. I had the opportunity to ask her about Force for Change, the charitable leg of the new Star Wars film and her involvement in the movie.
What is your Star Wars story? How did it start for you?
Kathy Kennedy: I was actually in film school when I saw Star Wars for the first time. So, as you can imagine, it was just jaw-dropping, mind-blowing. Everybody in film school was talking about it. You realize that there was so much possible beyond anything you could imagine once we all saw that movie. So, it was sort of perfectly timed. I suppose you were either seven or eight or you’re in film school.
Did having a female lead come early in the decisions or was that later?
Kathy Kennedy: It was right from the beginning. It’s something that J.J. and I started talking about day one. It was really important to us. We both have daughters so, yes we knew that this was important.
Force For Change has done so much to give back and has had a meaningful impact for fans as well. Can you talk a little bit about your involvement in the project?
Kathy Kennedy: It was really important to us when we started out the process of making the movie. J.J. and Bad Robot, Disney, all of us sat down and said, “Okay, we’re, we’re lucky enough to be involved in a franchise that’s gonna generate tremendous goodwill, what can we do to give back as a part of this phenomenon?” We sat down very early to start to talk about where that might go.
The idea for calling it Force For Change was a pretty brilliant one. It came about very early. We spent a bit of time kind of getting our head around what that means and how broad it can be. I sat down with Carol Stern at Unicef. She is brilliant. She and I just clicked immediately in recognizing that what they were doing with their initiative called Kid Power fit perfectly with some, some of the objectives that Disney and Lucasfilm had with some of the philanthropy that we were starting to look at. So that was a partnership that we formed almost immediately. And by the time we went to celebration we were ready to announce it.
Now under the umbrella of Force For Change we’ve gone to each of the cast members. We’ve let them identify what it is they’d like to pull under the umbrella of Force For Change. But, it’s primarily looking at how do you recognize empowering people around the world who are making a contribution?
What does Star Wars personally mean to you?
Kathy Kennedy: I think that what has always been obvious to me is that George (Lucas) created this from a very strong personal point of view. When he made this movie New Hope in 1977, 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. I think that that’s what I’ve always recognized with any of the filmmakers I work with is that the really good ones want to find something of themselves as a reason to tell the story. So, they’re looking for something that they want to infuse into the characters, storytelling and the emotion of the piece. J.J. did the same thing with this movie.
As a producer, I love recognizing that, and help find the resources to nurture and guide that. When somebody can’t find that, then I get a little concerned because if somebody’s just going to 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.