Jeb Stuart is a name that has been around Hollywood for quite a while as a writer on such classics as “Die Hard,” “The Fugitive,” and “Another 48 Hrs.” After a long break from the industry, he has found a niche as a television showrunner for projects like Netflix’s “The Liberator,” and his latest, “Vikings: Valhalla,” which drops on Netflix on February 25.
“Vikings: Valhalla” picks up 100 years after the original “Vikings” series and depicts the famous adventures of Leif Erikson, Harald Hardrada, and Freydis Eriksdotter. Stuart was such a fan of the original series, having even visited the set multiple times just as a fan, that he brought the idea of the “end of the Viking era” show to Netflix himself.
“I’m a fan of the series and I thought Michael [Hirst] brought it to a wonderful ending. The last thing I want to do is write Season 7 of the ‘Vikings,'” said Stuart. “They very quickly said that wasn’t what their intention was, but they kind of wanted to go into that next part of the ‘Vikings’ story. If Michael’s part involved the Lindisfarne raid and the start of the Viking Era, what does the end of the Viking Era look like?”
During the interview, Stuart also touches on the very first film he ever sold, which was a little independent action thriller from the ’80s called “Die Hard,” and how he looks back on it today.
“I do look back on it with fondness because I was just out of graduate school, I had never written an action movie…everybody that was involved with that movie, whether it was Bruce [Willis], John McTiernan, even in some respects, though I don’t think he would admit it, Joel Silver, all felt something to prove,” said Stuart. “McTiernan clearly wanted to do something that didn’t have aliens in it or a Predator or something like that, and I think Bruce was clearly trying to, you know, break out of ‘Moonlighting.’ I say this to writers all the time, too – it needed to have a human aspect to it. And I think that giving John McClane a family, you know, the whole Christmas aspect of it, the whole idea of coming in with one plan and ending up with a different outcome – you know, all of those things hold up. I still love the movie.”
Perhaps less well-known was the fact that Stuart was the first writer on the fourth ‘Indiana Jones’ film, which eventually became, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” While he didn’t end up writing the final draft, he did find the experience to be educational, to say the least.
“I bet you I learned more about storytelling and the business in that year with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Talk about a graduate school of education, because a lot of those days are simply sitting around and talking. Not working on the script but talking about how Bruce the shark [from ‘Jaws‘] didn’t work, or what happened with ‘Schindler’s List,’ or, you know, how you get a dinosaur to do such and such, or what happened in the first ‘Indiana Jones‘ and how they lost Harrison [Ford] for seven weeks in ‘Indy 2’ and how they shot around not having him there, and how do you make a schedule work when you don’t have your star.” Stuart said. “I have to admit there was a lot of bad in that process, for example, Steven [Spielberg] wanted a lot more aliens and Harrison [Ford] wanted no aliens, so I would fly back and forth from East Hampton, New York to Jackson Hole and every time I would see Steven he would say, ‘What happened to all the aliens?!’ and then I’d see Harrison and he’d say, ‘I told you – No. More. Aliens!’ So you can imagine the process.”
Obviously, looking at the final product, we can assume Spielberg won the “aliens vs. no aliens” argument.
Finally, Stuart will also be showrunner for the upcoming Netflix adaptation of “Assassin’s Creed,” which is being kept tightly under wraps, but Stuart was able to at least give an update as to where they are in the process of bringing the show to the screen.
“We’re moving along. We’re not to casting yet, but it’s a terrific team at Ubisoft, I mean a phenomenal group of creative talent there. Netflix is just the platinum standard for something like an ‘Assassin’s Creed,’ so I’m really excited about the whole project. I think it’s going to be a fun show. It’s going to be shot internationally. One thing I can tell you, absolutely, is that it’s going to have unbelievable action,” Stuart teased.
You can listen to the full discussion below:
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