For the foreseeable future there is one man the nerds of the world better be paying fuckin’ homage to: J.J. Abrams. He has so much of what we hold dear in his hands! We must keep the Abrams pleased with us, otherwise he’ll ruin both Star Trek and Star Wars!
All right, it’s likely not all that dire. Abrams has already proven he can make a film almost universally applauded with his 2009 Star Trek. And from what we’ve seen and heard of Star Trek Into Darkness he’s about to do it again. Now, as long as he manages a Star Wars film better than Episodes I-III he’ll surpass being a nerd icon and become a nerd legend. Can he do it?
Playboy recently chatted with the director and lord and master of two of science fiction’s pinnacle series about what he has in mind for Star Wars Episode VII, and how his involvement in the galaxy far, far away effects his obligations to the Federation.
PLAYBOY: Nothing matters more to moviegoers than the stories and characters from Star Wars. In your wildest, geekiest fantasies, did you ever imagine yourself helming the two biggest sci-fi franchises in the universe?
ABRAMS: It is preposterous. Ridiculous. Completely insane. It really is.
PLAYBOY: Star Wars and Star Trek are church and state in Hollywood. Can you really be loyal to both? Star Trek fans cried out on Twitter that you were cheating on them.
ABRAMS: I mean, I get it. The worlds are vastly different. Honestly, that was why I passed on Star Wars to begin with. I couldn’t imagine doing both. But when I said that my loyalty was to Star Trek I was literally working on finishing this cut. I couldn’t even entertain another thought. It was like being on the most beautiful beach in the world and someone saying, “There’s this amazing mountain over here. Come take a look.” I couldn’t balance the two, so I passed on Star Wars.
‘Course, we know Abrams eventually relented and agreed to direct Episode VII. Hit the jump to learn what changed his mind.
PLAYBOY: What happened between saying no and saying yes?
ABRAMS: It was a wild time. I was near the light at the end of the tunnel with my work on Star Trek. I felt I needed a bit of a breather, actually. But then Kathleen Kennedy [the new Lucasfilm head who oversees Star Wars] called again. I’ve known her for years. We had a great conversation, and the idea of working with her on this suddenly went from being theoretical and easy to deny to being a real, tangible, thrilling possibility. In the end it was my wife, Katie, who said if it was something that really interested me, I had to consider it.
Thank you, Ms. Abrams. Or, maybe we won’t be so grateful in two years, I don’t know. J.J. has already admitted to being a lifelong Star Wars fan; it was something we heard over and over when he was first selected for Star Trek. And everyone lost their shit thinking Abrams was going to infect Star Trek with too many of Star Wars‘ sensibilities. I can’t argue he didn’t, but what he brought to Star Trek breathed new life into a floundering franchise. Now, how will he accomplish this with Star Wars?
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 a Star 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.
I’m glad he’ll be seeking out Lucas for guidance. For all his faults he’s still the Grand Maester of the Star Wars universe. Just please, no dialogue advice. And, please don’t let your great love cloud your judgement in making a great film. Bryan Singer adored Superman and in particular Richard Donner’s films, but Superman Returns still sucked.
Finally, the big question,
PLAYBOY: Let’s talk sequels for a minute. Since you’re doing Star Wars, does that put you out of the running to direct the third Star Trek movie?
ABRAMS: 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.
Do go and read Playboy‘s entire interview, it’s fantastic. Plus, now you can say you’re only reading Playboy for the articles with a straight face.
How do you think Abrams will handle Episode VII? Will he be back for Star Trek 3? Do you even want him back?
Source: Playboy via CBM