J.J. Abrams is back in the director’s chair for Star Wars 9, but that took some convincing. Abrams helmed The Force Awakens in 2015, which successfully reintroduced the franchise to the masses after being away from the big screen for a decade. Rian Johnson stepped in to direct The Last Jedi, which wound up being rather divisive. When the final installment of this new trilogy found itself in need of a director, Lucasfilm turned back to Abrams. However, he wasn’t so quick to just jump back in the hot seat.
Originally, Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow had been hired by Lucasfilm to write and direct what is being billed as the final chapter in the Skywalker saga. Trevorrow eventually departed the project over “creative differences,” leaving Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy to find a replacement. J.J. Abrams emerged as the man who would bring home what he started. But in a recent interview, the filmmaker revealed he was feeling uneasy when he first got the call. Here’s what Abrams had to say about it.
“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. 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.”
While there are criticisms of The Force Awakens out there, the movie was a huge financial success and it wasn’t nearly as maligned as George Lucas’ prequel trilogy. It set the new Disney era of Lucasfilm up for success by grossing $2 billion at the box office and getting people excited about the franchise again. Without digging into what happened in the years since with The Last Jedi and Solo, it’s understandable that J.J. Abrams would feel a little trepidation. To that point, he did actually say no to Kathleen Kennedy before she convinced him otherwise.
“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. 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.”
It will be interesting to see how J.J. Abrams approaches the story threads put in place by Rian Johnson, while also telling his own story and bringing things to a close. Will he retcon things such as Rey’s parentage? Will he dive deeper on Snoke from beyond the grave? We’ll have to wait and see when Star Wars Episode IX arrives in theaters on December 20. This news was first reported by Fast Company.