JJ Abrams on a new Trek vessel.

“Preposterous,” “ridiculous”  and “completely insane.” Those are the exact words J.J. Abrams uses to describe the fact he’s behind not only Hollywood’s current iteration of Star Trek, but will soon helm Star Wars Episode VII. The director recently conducted a revealing, entertaining interview with Playboy Magazine and in it, he talked at length about the process of deciding to do Star Wars, differentiating that film from Star Trek, sex in his movies, Tom Cruise’s Scientology, the endings of Lost, Fringe, and his role on Revolution. It’s a great interview and I highly suggest you check it out in full.

But let’s concentrate on what Abrams had to say about Star Wars. Playboy flat out asks him about old cast members returning as well as the trilogy’s timeline and Abrams refuses to answer. He does, however, reveal he will be seeking feedback on his decisions from Star Wars creator George Lucas. Lucas’s role in the new films has been, and continues to be, somewhat vague, so this shines a bit of light on his participation. Abrams also discusses the intense pressures of taking on this film and the core questions he’s asking to make sure he doesn’t suffer the same kind of backlash Lucas got for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

And if that wasn’t enough, Abrams also discusses Cloverfield 2, a possible Alias movie, and admits he still could direct a third Star Trek film. 

The full Playboy article is here. It’s four pages and an absolute must read for Abrams fans. It’s more revealing than pretty much anything I’ve read about him so far. Here, however, is a quick excerpt where Abrams discusses Star Wars.

PLAYBOY: There’s much to discuss, such as the rumors of old cast members returning.

ABRAMS: [Smiles]

PLAYBOY: Will this be a distinct new trilogy?

ABRAMS: [Smiles]

PLAYBOY: Can you do away with Jar Jar Binks?

ABRAMS: You won’t like this answer, but it’s so early it would be insane to discuss details or get into plot points about what this unfilmed movie will be. And I’m not going to give my opinion on the original movies or characters.

PLAYBOY: But as a lifelong Star Wars fan, surely you have broad ideas about what needs to happen going forward. Three quarters of planet Earth came down on George Lucas for practically ruining Star Wars in Episode I. The Star Wars universe revolted.

ABRAMS: Here’s the thing. I try to approach a project from what it’s asking. What does it need to be? What is it demanding? With Star Wars, one has to take into account what has preceded it, what worked, what didn’t. There are cautionary tales for anything you take on that has a legacy—things you look at and think, I want to avoid this or that, or I want to do more of something. But even that feels like an outside-in approach, and it’s not how I work. For me, the key is when you have a script; it’s telling you what it wants to be.

PLAYBOY: Star Wars needs to look different from Star Trek, certainly.

ABRAMS: As with anything, because these are very different worlds, they shouldn’t feel the same aesthetically. They can’t. You’re right. But again, I don’t apply aesthetics first and fit a movie into that aesthetic. If I had come into Star Trek with those eyes, I would probably have been paralyzed. The advantage here is that we still have George Lucas with us to go to and ask questions and get his feedback on things, which I certainly will do. With Star Trek it was harder because I wasn’t aStar Trek fan; I didn’t have the same emotional feeling, and I didn’t have Gene Roddenberry to go to. But I came to understand the world of Star Trek, and I appreciated what fans felt and believed about this universe and this franchise.

PLAYBOY: As recently as last fall you said that directing a new Star Wars comes with a burden of “almost fatal sacrilege.” Do you feel that?

ABRAMS: I meant if I viewed this from a fan’s point of view—and no one’s a bigger Star Wars fan than I am—or from a legacy standpoint, it would scare the hell out of me. But instead of trying to climb this mountain in one giant leap, I’m just enjoying the opportunity and looking to the people I’m working with. I’ve known Kathy for years. I’ve worked with the screenwriter, Michael Arndt, for a long time. I’ve known George for a number of years and he’s now a friend. Even if this wasn’t Star Wars, I’d be enormously fortunate to work with them.

PLAYBOY: How much of your personal vision can you put on this?

ABRAMS: For me to talk to you about what the big themes or ideas are before they exist is disingenuous, but naturally I have a big say in how this gets put together. When I get involved with something, I own it and carry the responsibility of the job.

Again, you can continue to read the interview on Playboy.com.

A few highlights from later in the piece include Abrams mentioning a book called  Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann as something they’re developing and he would like to direct in the future. He says Rian Johnson is one filmmaker he’s really a big fan of, he’d be open to doing an Alias movie if things worked out (“We discuss it. In the right circumstance and situation I would definitely be open to it.”) and that he’s cooled on the idea of a Cloverfield sequel (“Part of me just wants to let it go, though we’ve had a couple of discussions about cool ways to do it.”)

Then, when asked if directing Star Wars means he can’t direct Star Trek 3, here’s his response:

No. I would say it’s a possibility. We’re trying to figure out the next step. But it’s like anything: It all begins with the story.

Which is exactly where they are with Star Wars right now.

What did you find most fascinating in the interview? Are you encouraged by Abrams’ confidence?

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