Screenwriter William Wheeler on ‘Queen of Katwe’, ‘Ghost in the Shell’ and ‘LEGO Ninjago’

     October 3, 2016

Now playing in theaters — after playing the Toronto International Film Festival — is director Mira Nair’s (Monsoon Wedding) adaptation of the Tim Crothers‘ book of the same name, Queen of Katwe. Scripted by William Wheeler, the film is based on the inspirational true story of Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga), a young girl from the streets of rural Uganda who, after being introduced to the game of chess, pursues a dream of becoming an international chess champion. Lupita Nyong’o plays the girl’s protective mother and David Oyelowo plays her chess teacher. For more on the film, watch the trailer and read Matt’s review.

Last week at our studio in Los Angeles I sat down with screenwriter William Wheeler. During our wide-ranging conversation we talked about adapting the story, how fictionalized the movie is, how he made the jump to writing full time, his writing process, and future projects. In addition, since Wheeler also worked on the Ghost in the Shell movie and the LEGO Ninjago movie, we talked about both of those projects.


Image via Paramount Pictures

Here’s the time index of the interview:

William Wheeler:

  • 0:55 – How did this project come to you?
  • 2:30 – How quickly did the film get green lit?
  • 3:26 – Talk a little bit about adapting this true life story into a film.
  • 5:43 – Were there any fictionalized moments or did you try to keep this as accurate as possible?
  • 7:38 – Talks about his writing process.
  • 9:17 – What happened that allowed you to make this a full time profession?
  • 11:24 – Ghost in the Shell talk?
  • 13:40 – Talks about how when so many people work on a script you’re not sure what will be in the finished film.
  • 16:37 – LEGO Ninjago
  • 18:13 – How do you think that film or your version of the script compares to what is being done in The LEGO Batman Movie and The LEGO Movie or is it very similar in tone?
  • 19:00 – What is the premise of this universe (referring to LEGO Ninjago)?
  • 21:10 – What else are you working on?
  • 22:35 – When you’re writing a project like this being done independently how cognizant are you writing the script from a financial perspective?


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