jj abrams star wars bits

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… there was Star Wars Bits, your round-up of all the Star Wars news you need to know. In this edition:

  • J.J. Abrams explains why he turned down Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
  • J.J. Abrams then explains why he finally accepted the gig.
  • James Gunn says he has no interest in making a Star Wars movie.
  • A new BB-8 featurette offers up some new footage.
  • Star Wars Battlefront takes you to the Battle of Jakku.
  • Harrison Ford “reviews” The Force Awakens.
  • Carrie Fisher has a bone to pick to how the Star Wars series has treated her body.

It’s no secret that Disney and Lucasfilm courted many directors for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and that many of them turned it down. Among those who turned it down was J.J. Abrams, who was currently embroiled in Star Trek Into Darkness when the offer came down the pipeline. Speaking with Howard Stern (via Collider), he explained why he initially said no to the offer of a lifetime:

I said ‘No’. I didn’t want to do a sequel. I’d done a Mission: Impossible movie; I’d done Star Trek. I didn’t wanna do another sequel—I’m sick of movies with numbers… As a fan, I’d rather just go to the theater and watch the movie.

However, after an extensive meeting with Lucasfilm president and Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy, Abrams relented. It turns out that the chance to introduce a new generation of characters in a world where the beloved original trilogy heroes were legends was just too enticing:

And the thing that got me, that grabbed me, was that feeling of a new, young character—in the case of this conversation it was a female character, didn’t know anything about her, but in the conversation that question of this young woman asking, ‘Who is Luke Skywalker?’, I don’t know why but it made me feel like, ‘Fuck that’s so cool!’ That there would be a discovery, these would be essentially kids who didn’t see Star Wars themselves who would be in this universe. The idea of sort of rediscovering this world.

abrams r2

Abrams also shared the story (via THR) of the first time he screened an unfinished cut of The Force Awakens to Disney executives, which was about as nerve-wracking as you’d expect. Imagine watching a Star Wars movie without finished music, sound and effects. Heck, the stories of George Lucas’ first screening of an unfinished Star Wars are legendary, with many of his friends and peers deeming the film a disaster. Here’s Abrams:

We showed the first cut — which was still incomplete, a complete version of the movie but not the finished version — and we showed it to Alan Horn, Bob Iger and Alan Bergman, the three people at Disney who sat with me in the theater, and we screened the movie. And it was horrifying. I’m nervous beyond words, I’m showing this movie that is so far from finished, there’s not an effect in it. … It was a lot of me giving excuses before the screening.

For the record, Abrams says the response to the early cut was positive.

abrams chewie

In a separate interview with Good Morning America (via THR), Abrams explained why the process of making The Force Awakens has been so secretive. In short, he’s doing it for you, the humble Star Wars fan:

Here’s the thing: I obviously don’t want to ruin the movie for people. It’s so important to us that we not give too many details and oversell it, which is very hard in a movie like Star Wars.

And yes, he’s hoping to create a legion of new fans, too. And yes, he’s hoping more girls will fall in love with this universe, which has been male-dominated for the past 40 years. Making the lead character a tough, heroic woman is certainly the right start:

Star Wars was always a boys thing and a movie that dads could take their sons to, and though that’s still very much the case, I was really hoping that this would be a movie that mothers could take their daughters to as well. I’m looking forward to kids seeing this movie and seeing themselves in it and seeing that they’re capable of doing things that they could never imagine possible.

While J.J. Abrams does all of this press, you have to wonder if any other filmmakers wish they were in his shoes right now. When asked if he would ever consider making a Star Wars movie, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn was pretty blunt about the whole thing.

C’mon. The guy is too busy building the cosmic corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to think about Jedi right now. He’s got talking tree and gun-toting raccoons to deal with.

The Disney Channel aired a cute, silly little video that seemingly exists solely to introduce kids to BB-8 (as if they already don’t know who that is by now). While you surely don’t need an education in the identity of the galaxy’s cutest new droid, this video does contain snippets of new footage and a brief dialogue exchange between Daisy Ridley and BB-8. So if you have 45 seconds to spare…

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