Called a ‘visionary’ in the press releases from Lucasfilm Star Wars: The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams has also earn the respect from fans.
JJ was already attached to the rebooted Star Trek films but when Star Wars came up he had to make the decision to do one of them. Being a much greater Star Wars fan he chose that leaving the third Star Trek reboot film, Star Trek Beyond, in the hands of Director Justin Lin.
JJ Abrams, who also wrote the script and served as producer, was at the Los Angeles Convention Center on last Sunday. We were there also to see what he might tell us about making Star Wars: The Force Awakens…
You’re so rich, why did you want to take on these movies?
Here’s the thing. This is a project that I felt incredibly lucky to be asked to be a part of, and I think I speak for all of us, except maybe Harrison, when I say, this was not a job. I’m kidding, Harrison was unbelievable.
The process of this movie, to a person on the crew, to a person on the cast, this was not a job, and it was nothing that I think any one of us took on because it was a gig that was available.
It was something that felt like a true passion and something that every single person brought much more than any could have expected, and so I do honestly feel honored to be part of this group.
Who was the most difficult actor to work with?
Definitely Oscar. No, no, no, everyone was shockingly and eerily wonderful to work with.
To get to work with people like Carrie and Harrison and Mark, and people who I was a fan of since I was 11 years old, and also actor like Lupita and Daisy and Adam and John, it was so much fun to see them work together.
To see how that alchemy came out, and it was really a spectacular and fun thing every day on set.
Can you talk about working with Lupita Nyong’o, whose role of Maz is motion capture?
She was remarkably tireless and willing to experiment with different versions of this character, and it was an amazing thing to discover over various iterations of Maz what she sounded like, how she moved.
I’ve never been through this before with an actor where we got to discover again and again and again how to better tell the story we were telling.
I always felt guilty every time we started up another session, we did some reshoots, we did some work, and every single time, Lupita was willing and game and deeply committed and into finding Maz Kanata’s voice, and I’m eternally grateful.
You’re very secretive about this film, was it heart-wrenching for you to let go of some of the footage in the movie?
No, no, no. The contrary, actually. It was something that while we were working on the movie, I realized how engaged with the fans and forthcoming Lucas Film had always been, and my nature, which is to keep things quiet, was something that I was certain we were going to have fights about and my wanting to keep the audience surprised when they went to see the movie.
But Disney, to my shock, was arguing to not ruin, not reveal, not show every story beat. We’ve all seen trailers for films that literally show you the movie in Cliff’s Notes form and then you go to see the film and you’re like, yeah, that was literally the movie. I saw it in a two minute, ten second piece.
I was very grateful that Disney actually took the lead on trying to keep things quieter. And I ask that you maintain some level of surprise for people who get to see the movie and don’t have it ruined for them just because it’s finally been released, which I cannot wait for, by the way.
What was the scariest day on the set for you?
The scariest day for me was when Harrison Ford was injured, which was just absolutely hideous. But every day felt like there were challenges because I knew how important this was to so many people, and that was never a presence that went away.
And so every decision I knew had this importance, and yet we had a date to make, we had a story to tell, and it was always about trying to do the best work possible.