Josh Trank on leaving Star Wars: 'It’s not healthy for me right now in my life'

The director of the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot has finally revealed his version of why he won't be helming the second Star Wars spinoff movie next.

Speaking in public for the first time since he announced on May 1 that he was dropping out of directing Star Wars spinoff #2 -- after working on it for just under a year -- Josh Trank told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday (June 4):

"I knew that this was going to be questioned and it was going to come under skepticism as to why I left Star Wars. And it was hard. It was the hardest decision I've ever had to make in my life."

So why did he leave Star Wars? According to Trank, his experience making the highly controversial Fantastic Four -- which included an unceasing barrage of fan criticism over everything from the casting to the costumes -- made him decide that he did not want to take on another huge franchise immediately after finishing this one:

"I want to do something original after this because I’ve been living under public scrutiny, as you’ve seen, for the last four years of my life. And it’s not healthy for me right now in my life. I want to do something that’s below the radar."

The young filmmaker added that everyone at Lucasfilm understood his decision because "this whole experience for me has been very psychologically hard." 

Trank, whose debut sci-fi hit Chronicle led to him getting tasked with relaunching the Fantastic Four franchise, admitted that he was "shocked" when the news that he was stepping away from Star Wars hadn't "blown over" right away.

Trank left Star Wars -- to "pursue some original creative opportunities," according to his official statement at the time -- shortly after he did not show up for a panel at the Star Wars Celebration convention in Anaheim, and the combination of events immediately created speculation that he had been fired

Not helping matters was the constant swirl of rumors surrounding the Fantastic Four shoot. His behavior on that set was alleged to be erratic and difficult, leading to a breakdown in his relationship with Fantastic Four writer/producer (and Star Wars producer) Simon Kinberg. There was word that his dogs had done $100,000 worth of damage to a house he was staying in during the shoot, and that reshoots were being done without him.

But now Trank said, "None of those facts were true -- and any of the facts that were true were spun in such a maliciously wrong way." He added:

"If you ask anybody by name who I’ve worked with, from Simon to (producer) Hutch (Parker) or my crew or anybody else, they’d be like, ‘We’ve been working really hard on this movie and we’ve had an excellent time working together.' It’s been a challenging movie -- for all of the right reasons."

Kinberg, for his part, leapt to the director's defense, saying:

"I’ve been around some version of this for a long time. This, I would say, is particularly cruel. I haven’t really seen this level of vehemence against a filmmaker. And it’s surreal and unfair."

Aug. 7 will be our first chance to see Fantastic Four, and it will be interesting to observe whether Trank does the press tour for it. In the meantime, do you believe his explanation of why he left Star Wars?

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