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PORTRAIT: ART STREIBER
From a New York theatre to the Starship Enterprise... Scott Chambliss started out designing sets on Broadway, as an assistant to the great, Tony-, Emmy- and Oscar-winning Brit Tony Walton, before segueing into film and TV. He met J. J. Abrams on Felicity, but it wasn’t until Alias that they extensively collaborated, Chambliss making those Abrams-conceived worlds real.
“It just blew me away to discover the way his
mind worked.” They have grown and learned
side by side, overcoming initial industry condescension over their TV background.
“I saw (on Mission: Impossible III) that he
went from somebody who all these seasoned movie pros were quite suspicious of, to somebody they became incredibly dedicated to and supportive of and excited by, because it was clear this was one sharp guy and a very creative thinker on his feet.” And he’s still growing.
“On Star Trek Into Darkness he had pretty strong thoughts about more complete concepts of what he wanted than I was accustomed to,” says Chambliss, who is next collaborating with Brad Bird on mysterious sci-fi Tomorrowland. “J. J.’s taken me places I would never go on my own as a designer. I’ve taken him places he would never go on his own as a director... I have never known anybody like him.”