Roland Emmerich Reveals a Surprising Connection between Midway (2019) and Star Wars (1977)

It’s no secret that many artists across multiple industries have George Lucas and his seminal Star Wars franchise to thank for being the ground zero of their creative careers. So it may not surprise many that Independence Day (1996) and Midway (2019) director Roland Emmerich is part of that club. 

Roland Emmerich attends the Premiere Of Lionsgate's "Midway" at Regency Village Theatre
Roland Emmerich attends the Premiere Of Lionsgate’s “Midway” at Regency Village Theatre | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Emmerich and Midway star Luke Evans sat down with Ian de Borja on The IMDB Show LIVE on Twitch to talk about not only the nuts and bolts of the film, but he also discussed some of the influences behind it too.

After a discussion regarding the logistics of shooting the intense dogfight scenes in the World War II film, de Borja asks about Emmerich’s early affinity for the Star Wars movies. He drilled down specifically to the original which was released in 1977.

Emmerich discusses not only the films that inspired him to become a director, but also the strange connection of the events he astoundingly depicts are the same that were the inspiration for the dogfight scenes in the original Star Wars

Emmerich had quite the sci-fi education

When asked about Star Wars being his main directorial inspiration, Emmerich clarifies “it was two movies, actually.”

It was Close Encounters and Star Wars, which came out in the same year.” When Emmerich entered film school in 1977, he did not lack for a well of inspiration to draw from. This discussion reveals that Lucas used footage from the “Battle of Midway” for inspiration for the iconic dogfight scenes in the film, most likely scenes such as the Death Star trench run. 

Emmerich clearly sympathizes, as one who understands the intricacies of crafting these complex dogfights on the big screen. It’s hard not to acknowledge the creative development that has come full circle with Emmerich working on a depiction that was the inspiration for his inspiration. 

Emmerich has had his sights on ‘Midway’ for longer than you may expect

Early on in the interview, de Borja asks about the film’s writer, Wes Tooke, and how he got involved in the project. Emmerich goes on to reveal not only how Tooke got started on the film, but also his process with young writers who come to his office.

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Emmerich says that Tooke was actually there for another project, but when Emmerich’s posed the question he says he poses all writers who come through his office of “what is the script you really want to write?” Tooke “without hesitation” jumped to Midway. Emmerich claims he immediately told Tooke “you know what, I’ve had a Midway project for 15 years, we should team up.”

The stage of ‘Midway’ is astounding

The scope of the action in Midway is huge, both cinematically and physically. Evans and Emmerich gleefully recount the scope of bringing this project to life, much of which was done on a shooting stage in Montreal. Evans notes that all of “Wade’s stuff was shot in Montreal, at the studios there.”

Barely containing a smile, Evans reminisces about how big the structures were for the project, saying that “they said it was the biggest structure that they had ever built on that stage, and there were some points that the set itself was only six foot away from the actual wall of the stage, it was epic.”

Emmerich expounded with the fact that the stage is “actually the biggest stage in North America because it’s actually two stages, you just take the middle wall out.”

Given this information, fans of both Emmerich and spectacle should be quite pleased with the outcome of this film. Emmerich’s film joins the ranks of gripping modern war films depicting the second World War with the likes of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, and shows that directors still have fresh takes on a conflict that has been depicted countless times.