J.J. Abrams Didn't Even Want to Direct 'Episode IX', so Maybe Start Lowering Those Expectations
If the legends are true, the first Star Wars Episode IX trailer is set to drop on Friday, and despite everything that’s about to happen in this article, I guarantee I will be there cracking my screen open and trying to pour it into my nerdy little veins. I’m not going to put on airs.
That said, considering the hype train leaves the station in two days, J.J. Abrams has an interesting interview in Fast Company where he basically says he didn’t want to direct Episode IX because he’s very much aware that he just barely pulled off The Force Awakens.
I wasn’t supposed to be there. I wasn’t the guy, ya’ know? I was working on some other things, and I had something else that I was assuming would be the next project, if we’d be so lucky. And then Kathy Kennedy called and said, “Would you really, seriously, consider coming aboard?” And once that started, it all happened pretty quickly. The whole thing was a crazy leap of faith. And there was an actual moment when I nearly said, “No, I’m not going to do this.” I was trepidatious to begin with, getting involved, because I love Star Wars so much and felt like it was … . It was almost, on a personal level, a dangerous thing to get too close to something that you care that much about. And yet, with Force Awakens, I feel like we managed to introduce these new characters—for some people, new actors—and continue a story in a way that I thought had heart and humanity and humor and surprise. Though of course I’m aware that there are critics of that movie, it felt to me like we dodged a bullet. Like we got in there, we got to do something. And I left loving Star Wars as much as I did when I got there. Like, somehow, it was on a personal, selfish level something I was really happy to have done. Not just excited about doing but happy to have done. And to ask to have that happen again, I felt a little bit like I was playing with fire. Like, why go back? We managed to make it work. What the hell am I thinking?
If you’re not aware, Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World) was supposed to direct Episode IX, but he parted ways with Lucasfilm over “creative differences.” (Read: The Book of Henry turned out to be a honking turd.) So, the situation was not ideal, and Abrams isn’t shy about pointing that out.
FC: What were the time constraints?
Abrams: Because they had announced release dates, and everything works backwards.
FC: Was the schedule unusually fast?
Abrams: To have no script and to have a release date and have it be essentially a two-year window when you’re saying (to yourself), you’ve got two years from the decision to do it to release, and you have literally nothing … . You don’t have the story, you don’t have the cast, you don’t have the designers, the sets. There was a crew, and there were things that will be worked on for the version that preceded ours, but this was starting over.
Fortunately, Abrams found a partner to help him rewrite the script in a stupid short amount of time. Unfortunately, that partner is Chris Terrio whose last two films were… Batman V Superman and Justice League WHY? Why God?!
So the first thing I did was reach out to a writer who I’ve admired for years, Chris Terrio. who I didn’t really know, to say, “Listen, would you want to write Star Wars with me?” And he screamed.
FC: Out of terror or excitement?
Abrams: Probably a bit of both.
In fairness, all Abrams has to do is pull off a more action-oriented closer a la Return of the Jedi, which is his bag. Plus, it’s not like he can just plow right over the events of The Last Jedi and do something stupid like retconning Rey’s parents. Could you imagine?
What’s next? Luke Skywalker is sick of Star Wars now?
I have a bad feeling about this. (Yup, I went for it. Didn’t even hesitate.)
Header Image Source: Getty
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