One story, and one story only has been dominating the nerd news media: J.J. Abrams directing Star Wars Episode VII. After months of speculation over who would land the most coveted directing gig in Hollywood, it was given to Star Trek reviver, Abrams. Unexpected news, but I believe, mostly welcomed internet-wide. And since the bombshell dropped anyone and everyone has begun speculating about what kind of Star Wars flick Abrams will make.
Collecting Abrams’ comments about Star Wars from the past six years, Star Wars Blog has compiled a pretty comprehensive opinion on “a galaxy far, far away” from its new helmsmen. His comments in 2008 about where he’d like to see Star Wars go next may prove to be the most telling,
I feel like the world of Star Wars has gotten to be so vast, not just in terms of the various mediums that Star Wars occupies, but because of the visual possibilities that technology has allowed and Industrial Light & Magic is so remarkably capable at creating. My favorite thing about Star Wars is the ability to tell an incredibly personal, intimate, and emotional story against a backdrop of conflict and battle that’s planetary and massive. What I would love to see is a story about characters that I am desperately entertained by and definitely care about, and keep that story as focused as possible and make more of that than the pyrotechnics of it all which to me is what makes Star Wars so brilliant. If it’s a TV show, that’s terrific. If it’s animated I’m all for it. If it’s a radio show or a video game or an online experience — whatever it is I would love to discover in this vast universe some new characters that make me feel the way that Luke, Leia, and Han Solo did.
You could say that Abrams applied much of this same thinking to his reboot of Star Trek, and look how it breathed new life into that franchise.
Of course, we wouldn’t be discussing Abrams’ vision for Episode VII if it wasn’t for one woman, Kathleen Kennedy. Her replacement of George Lucas as Lucasfilm‘s head honcho was a sign of changing times, we just didn’t realize how much change at the time. Turns out she played an integral role in making Episode VII a reality and in snagging Abrams to direct. In an in depth interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Kennedy reveals how she did it. By asking, “Please do Star Wars.”
Okay, there was more to it, but that really was the bottom line. She did her best to put Abrams at ease about tackling such a daunting project and confided him in that Oscar winner Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3) was on board to write the script, and Lawrence Kasdan, writer of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, would be consulting. Kennedy says Abrams was, “flipping out when he found out that Michael and Larry were on the movie already.” She obviously did a really good job playing to the nerd and huge Star Wars fan within Abrams. “We spent a lot of time talking about how meaningful Star Wars is and the depth of the mythology that George has created and how we carry that into the next chapter,” she said.
Come the release of Episode VII we’ll know whether or not Abrams has achieved the unthinkable: successfully restarting not one but two science fiction institutions. And we’ll know which woman to either thank or blame. What are your feelings about how Abrams will tackle Star Wars? Do his past comments calm your concerns or only raise more?