Mention the name JJ Abrams and there’s one question that immediately barges all others aside: what’s the plan for Episode VII? While he was able to approach Star Trek with a detached objectivity, how will he, as a huge Star Wars fan approach Star Wars' bold new era? Empire put that question to the man himself when we recently sat down with him at his Bad Robot offices in LA.
“I don’t know because we’re just getting started. So it’s a great question that I hope I’ll have a good answer to when I know what the answer is. There are infinitely more questions than answers right now, but to me, they’re not that dissimilar. Though I came at these both from very different places, where they both meet is a place of ‘Ooh, that’s really exciting.’ And even though I was never a Star Trek fan, I felt like there was a version of it that would make me excited, that I would think ‘that’s cool, that feels right, I actually would want to see that.
“How we were going to get there, what the choices were going to be, who was going to be in it – all of those things I knew would have to be figured out, but it was all based on a foundation of this indescribable, guttural passion for something that could be. It’s a similar feeling that I have with Star Wars. I feel like I can identify a hunger for what I would want to see again and that is an incredibly exciting place to begin a project. The movies, the worlds could not be more different but that feeling that there’s something amazing here is the thing that they share.”
Lucasfilm whipped fans into a frenzy this year when they announced that JJ Abrams would be the man to bring Star Wars back to the big screen. The director had turned down Episode VII last year, throwing people off the scent, but in a surprise volte face he subsequently accepted the mantle and became a new hope for the galaxy far, far away.
“My knee-jerk reaction was that I’m in the middle of working on the Star Trek movie and I can’t even consider it. But then time went by and I got further along working on the movie and getting to a place where I had done most of the heavy lifting. So when I met with Kathy Kennedy we just started discussing it and I was able to actually engage in the conversation. I went down to tell Katie, my wife, and I said ‘I had just a very interesting conversation with Kathy.’ That was the beginning.
“I will say that Steven [Spielberg] was very encouraging of Star Wars. It’s funny because I talked to him about it and it turned out he knew all about what was going on.”
Read more of our exclusive in-depth interview with JJ Abrams in the May issue of Empire, on-sale Thursday 28 March.