'Star Wars' producer: Upcoming trilogy will feature 'all new characters'
In an exclusive interview, Ram Bergman also reveals that he'd love to film the sci-fi thriller in his native Israel.
The force is strong with Ram Bergman. For anyone in the movie business, producing a "Star Wars" movie would be a career highlight. And, sure, producing “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” was Bergman's highest profile achievement to date. But that's just the beginning for the Israeli producer.
Disney has since tapped Bergman to produce three more "Star Wars" movies, in essence creating an entirely new trilogy. While most details are under wraps, Bergman did reveal to us that it will focus on a fresh set of characters.
All this is a bounty he never even dreamed of as a boy growing up in Israel. He’d seen the first two Star Wars movies – “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back” – when they were released in theaters, but actually owning a copy of the films was a lot more difficult in Israel in those days, as he explained in an interview with From The Grapevine.
(From left): Actor Mark Hamill, director Rian Johnson, Prince Harry, Prince William, actor John Boyega, producer Ram Bergman, Chewbacca, actress Daisy Ridley and producer Kathleen Kennedy during a tour of the Star Wars sets in England. (Photo: Adrian Dennis / Getty Images)
From The Grapevine: Were you a “Star Wars” fan as a kid?
Ram Bergman: Yes! When I grew up there was one channel in Israel, in black and white. There were no video stores so there were no movies. My father smuggled a VCR in so I could watch the World Cup games. From time to time he’d get pirated copies of movies, and one of them was “Return of the Jedi.” I screened it for all my friends.
So how does it feel to be part of the Star Wars universe now?
It’s a dream. I’m having the best time in my life. I’m working with the best people, Rian Johnson and all the people at Disney and Lucasfilm. It’s all about the work.
Did you always plan to become a movie producer?
No. I thought I was going to be a soccer player. I never thought I was going to be making movies. Someone asked me if I wanted to take a film class and I said ‘sure.’ I took a few classes and I loved it. I didn’t think I could be a good writer or director, but I thought I could be a good producer. So I went straight to America. I came to Los Angeles in 1991.
You’re working on three new “Star Wars” movies. What can you reveal about them?
It’s a completely new trilogy that writer-director Rian Johnson, my partner, is going to create. It’s all new characters. Everything is new.
What’s the plan for releasing the first one?
I can’t tell you because we don’t know yet. Maybe in two years; it’s just in the early stages.
Do you see the franchise continuing indefinitely?
Yes, absolutely. The kids can’t get enough of “Star Wars.”
Who is your favorite "Star Wars” character?
Would you consider shooting the new “Star Wars” trilogy in Israel?
Who knows? It’s a function of what the location calls for. But I would be the happiest guy. I did “A Tale of Love and Darkness” there a few years ago. I would love to work with more Israelis and work in Israel. I was just there two weeks ago. I went twice in the last two months. My mom is there, my family and friends.
You produced a remake of the 1973 prison escape movie “Papillon,” which is coming out in August. What can you tell us about that?
I think it’s a really good remake of the original that I grew up with, and watched over and over. It stars Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek and they did phenomenal work. I was not involved in the actual filming of it because I was busy with “Star Wars.” But I think they did a great job.
You were just honored with the Achievement in Film Award by the Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles, where Mark Hamill presented you with the award. What does it mean to you?
It means a lot. It’s amazing how much talent is there on all fronts, not just entertainment. Being an Israeli and seeing how well Israelis are doing now in all sorts of aspects, whether it’s technology, medicine or business, we have a stage now and it’s great.
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