Greg Weisman Exclusive Interview - GARGOYLES, STAR WARS REBELS, and RAIN OF THE GHOSTS
Writer Greg Weisman is best known for creating Disney's epic 1990s series Gargoyles, but he's also worked on a ton of other projects over the course of his career. I've been a fan of his work since Gargoyles, and he recently published a book called Rain of the Ghosts that I think a lot of you would enjoy. He has also been working on the highly anticipated Star Wars Rebels animated series for Disney and Lucasfilm, which is sure to be a hit.
Weisman was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions for us regarding Gargoyles, Rain of the Ghosts and Star Wars Rebels. He shares his thoughts on a Gargoyles feature film, goes into detail about his new book, talks about his excitement for Star Wars Rebels, and answers a few other general questions. Our exclusive interview is definitely an interesting read, so check it out below!
Gargoyles was one of the best series that Disney ever produced. Why did it end only after 3 seasons?
Well, it really ended after TWO seasons. Gargoyles was a syndicated series that reached its target of 65 episodes by the end of Season Two. Having achieved that 65-episode syndication package, Disney didn’t have enough incentive to continue, because though we were always a solid hit in the ratings – a single or a double – Gargoyles was never a home run. (I’m afraid Power Rangers consistently beat us head-to-head.)
In an unrelated development, Disney purchased the ABC network, and that network needed ‘Boys’ programming for its Saturday Morning block. So they ordered a season of Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles. But that season was made without the participation of most of the creative staff behind the series’ first two seasons, including myself and Frank Paur, the producers. Creatively, I believe the show suffered. In any case, the ratings were dreadful, so the series was cancelled.
Who is your favorite Gargoyles character and why?
I don’t have a single favorite character. That’d be like choosing between my children. But the show revolves around Goliath. He is the prism through which we reinterpreted the old comedy development of the series to create the show everyone has seen.
Is there any thing you would have done differently with the Gargoyles series?
Little things. In “Grief,” I would have let the Pack shoot our heroes, since death was suspended. In “The Hound of Ulster,” I would have had Cu Chullain’s armored remains in his burial mound. But there’s nothing big I would do over.
Has there ever been any talk of a live action movie? Because it needs to happen, does Disney know it needs to happen?
Over the years, there has. But nothing current. Disney doesn’t seem interested in developing a movie based on the series at this time. I obviously hope that changes.
Rain of the Ghosts questions:
You recently wrote a new book called Rain of the Ghosts, which was published by St. Martin’s Press. What’s the story behind the book, and what inspired you to write it?
Rain of the Ghosts was one of the first ideas I developed after Gargoyles back in the mid to late 90s. It’s about a young girl, Rain Cacique, who lives with her parents and grandfather on a chain of tropical islands known as the Ghost Keys, or more simply, the Ghosts. Rain’s parents work in the tourist industry, and Rain feels trapped in a life of making beds and cutting bait for an endless series of more and more tourists. Her grandfather, Sebastian Bohique, gives Rain a family heirloom, a gold armband, which gives her the ability to communicate with ghosts, and Rain soon learns she has a destiny – and a mission.
The inspiration was really the mythology of the Caribbean, especially that of the Taíno Indians, which is rich and yet largely unexplored by pop culture. It’s fertile ground, and I had a blast exploring it in Rain.
What are some aspects of the book that you think will grasp readers and pull them in?
I think the omniscient narrator of this story is unique. I think the setting is both unique and specific. Rain’s world – both the mystical and the mundane – is, I believe, fully realized and populated by a large cast of characters. And hopefully Rain herself will interest readers. She has strong relationships with her parents, her Papa `Bastian, and her best friend Charlie Dauphin. She’s smart and resourceful but very human and flawed. Plus we have adventure, action, romance, humor, horror and all sorts of good things. Frankly, if folks like my work in animation, they’ll like Rain, as well.
Has there been any interest in adapting Rain into an animated or live action film? Is that something you would want to do?
Love to. We’re taking it around. Keep your fingers crossed.
Do you plan on writing a sequel?
Rain of the Ghosts is the first book in a series of nine. The second book, Spirits of Ash and Foam, is already written and will be out on July 8th, 2014. I’ve just started work on the third book in the series: Masque of Bones.
Star Wars Rebels questions:
You're currently working on Star Wars Rebels. How excited are you to be working on such a high profile animated project?!
Extremely. I love the Star Wars franchise, in particular Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope and Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, which is very close to the time period we are focusing on in Rebels. It’s really like a dream come true.
What is one of your favorite things about working on Star Wars Rebels so far?
Well, it’s hard to top our voice recording sessions. We have a stellar cast. Steve Blum as Zeb Orrelios, Taylor Gray as Ezra Bridger, Freddie Prinze, Jr. as Kanan Jarrus, Vanessa Marshall as Hera Syndulla, and Tiya Sircar as Sabine Wren. Plus our guest actors (still a secret) have all been great too. So those sessions are a true highlight.
But it was also really great breaking the stories for Season One with fellow executive producers Dave Filoni and Simon Kinberg. That was very exciting.
Out of all the characters that have been revealed so far, which one do you think the hardcore Star Wars fans are going to like the most?
I think for very different reasons, all five of our regulars – plus our droid Chopper – will be breakout fan favorites. They’ve all got great stories to tell and terrific attributes. Honestly, they all rock!
In the course of your career what would you say your favorite project that you worked on has been and why?
Well, I’ve enjoyed nearly everything I’ve worked on, including Captain Atom, W.I.T.C.H., Roughnecks: The Starship Trooper Chronicles, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Young Justice, Rain of the Ghosts, and most recently Star Wars Rebels. But Gargoyles is really my baby. It’s hard to top that.
What kind of advice do you have for any aspiring writers out there trying to make it in the business?
READ. READ and WRITE. READ, WRITE and PROOFREAD. Over and over and over. Then, I guess I’d advise moving to where the work is. Once you have a career, you can work from anywhere, but to get a career, you need to be able to knock on doors, take lunches, etc.
What would you say your top 5 favorite movies of all time are?
Hmmm. Let’s see… In no particular order: Robin and Marion. Risky Business. Betty Blue. Casablanca. Shakespeare in Love. The Empire Strikes Back. One Hundred and One Dalmations. The Great Mouse Detective. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Ran. Henry V. Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. Much Ado About Nothing. (That’s at least five, right?)