J.J. Abrams Talks Star Wars: Episode IX Challenges, Why It Might Be ‘Incredibly Special’

J.J. Abrams Talks Star Wars: Episode IX Challenges, Why It Might Be ‘Incredibly Special’

Photo Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm, Abrams

(inset) J.J. Abrams; Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac on the sets of Star Wars: Episode IX

  • Star Wars: Episode IX to release in December 2019
  • Abrams nearly said no to return to the franchise
  • They were working under considerable time constraint

J.J. Abrams has addressed the challenges of working on the as-yet untitled Star Wars: Episode IX — which has the burden of wrapping up the sequel trilogy and the Skywalker Saga — in a new interview, on which he was brought on with a deadline already in place, unlike with the first chapter The Force Awakens. Abrams was initially hesitant to say yes after Colin Trevorrow departed Episode IX over creative differences, but his wife Katie McGrath convinced him to sign on. Episode IX is currently in post-production and Abrams thinks they might have “something incredibly special”. Not despite the time constraints, but possibly because of them.

Here are some choice excerpts from Abrams' interview with Fast Company, regarding the same:

“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 left loving Star Wars as much as I did when I got there [with The Force Awakens]. 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? And there was a moment when I literally said, ‘No,' and Katie said, ‘You should do this.' And my first thought was, has she met someone? And then I thought, she's usually right about stuff. And when she said it, I think that she felt like it was an opportunity to bring to a close this story that we had begun and had continued, of course. And I could see that even though the last thing on my mind was going away and jumping back into that, especially with the time constraints that we were faced with.”

“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 [were] worked on for the version that preceded ours, but this was starting over.”

“I'm not complaining when I say this, but [on Episode IX,] it was having to make decisions based on gut. When Damon Lindelof and I created Lost, we had essentially 12 weeks to write, cast, shoot, cut, and turn in a two-hour pilot with a big cast. And that was a crazy short amount of time. The benefit of that was, we didn't have time to overthink. There wasn't time to get studio notes that end up sometimes taking you in lateral positions and making you adjust things — death by a thousand cuts — to a place where something doesn't resemble what it should be, and you can't remember why you got there or how.”

“I had some gut instincts about where the story would have gone. But without getting in the weeds on [The Last Jedi], that was a story that Rian [Johnson] wrote and was telling based on [Episode] VII before we met. So he was taking the thing in another direction. So we also had to respond to Episode VIII. So our movie was not just following what we had started, it was following what we had started and then had been advanced by someone else. So there was that, and, finally, it was resolving nine movies. While there are some threads of larger ideas and some big picture things that had been conceived decades ago and a lot of ideas that Lawrence Kasdan and I had when we were doing Episode VII, the lack of absolute inevitability, the lack of a complete structure for this thing, given the way it was being run was an enormous challenge.”

“I feel like we've gotten to a place — without jinxing anything or sounding more confident than I deserve to be — I feel like we're in a place where we might have something incredibly special. So I feel relief being home [at Bad Robot and in Los Angeles], and I feel gratitude that I got to do it. And more than anything, I'm excited about what I think we might have.”

Star Wars: Episode IX flies into theatres December 20, 2019.

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