Easily one of my favorite movies of the summer was Pacific Rim. It had everything a big summer blockbuster needed and, thanks to a carefully written script and first-class direction from Guillermo Del Toro, it was one of the smartest and most fun summer movies I’ve ever seen. And let’s face it, giant robots punching giant monsters is a lot of fun.
Over the summer my Full of Sith co-host Mike Pilot and myself were able to interview the screenwriter of Pacific Rim, Travis Beacham, about the movie and his love of Star Wars.
We talked, as we do, about his first experience with Star Wars, and the influence it had on him in his career as a writer. Here are some highlights:
Travis Beacham: “I was really, really young [when Star Wars came out]. I think my earliest Star Wars memory that I have was from Return of the Jedi. I distinctly remember the scene with the rancor under Jabba’s Palace. As a kid I was always super-nuts about monsters. I was a huge Ray Harryhausen fan, I watched all these old Godzilla movies, I was so young [and into monsters] that I wanted to be a paleontologist, as well. I really fixated on any time there was any kind of monster in Star Wars, even to the briefest second. As a kid it really captivated my imagination. I was very, very impressed with the rancor. That might not have been my first experience with Star Wars, but it was my first Star Wars memory, for sure.
As a kid, I didn’t understand it as the Joseph Campbell hero myth with that elegance of storytelling. As a kid, I was just, “Monsters!” I did definitely came to appreciate that as I grew up and as I got older. But at the same time, it’s already firmly ingrained in your primal memory that Darth Vader is Luke’s father. You can’t unknow that. So by the time I was examining stories, none of the surprises were surprises, and, you know, people sometimes overvalue surprise as an emotion. You can only see Star Wars for the first time once and people are watching it again and again and again and it’s a testament to the strength beyond the plot twists that it has. The narrative strength that it has is that it can be enjoyed even though you know the biggest plot elements in it.”
Pacific Rim certainly took everything Beacham knew about monsters (starting with the rancor) and turned it up to the next level.
You can listen to his full interview on the Full of Sith podcast. We talked more about the Star Wars saga, the monsters of Star Wars, his time working with Guillermo Del Toro on the screenplay for Pacific Rim, and how great Lawrence Kasdan is at his job.
You can also follow him on Twitter.