Imagine if your mentor was Steven Spielberg and he called you out of the blue one day to ask if you’d direct a Star Wars film? This is the story of how Spielberg convinced J.J. Abrams to direct Star Wars: The Force Awakens…
THR ran a piece titled “Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall on How to Win in Hollywood Today,” in which the story of how Spielberg — with the help of Abrams’ wife — convinced the man who revitalized the Star Trek cinematic universe, not to mention the myriad of fantastic television shows, to come aboard the Disney/Lucasfilm train, and direct Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Photo by Annie Leibovitz
This is what Spielberg had to say:
"“I brought J.J.’s name up. I thought J.J. would be the best person to direct Episode 7 and I called J.J. and said ‘Would you do it if it was offered to you?’ He said, ‘I would but my wife won’t let me ’cause she doesn’t want me to restart any more franchises.’”"
The fact that Abrams’ wife didn’t want him to restart another franchise, is pure comedy gold. J.J. Abrams seemed to take a bit of flack for Star Trek: Into Darkness, in which he swore up and down that Benedict Cumberbatch was not portraying Kahn.
"“But I went to Kathy and asked if I could get J.J. to say yes to this would you consider it? Kathy said ‘Are you kidding? Of course I would. But why would J.J. do Star Wars; he’s already done Mission Impossible and Star Trek.’”"
Why indeed? Well, because Disney had acquired the rights to Lucasfilm, and was ready to throw a ton of money at a new Star Wars trilogy.
"“So I take Katie Abrams and J.J. to dinner that night to Giorgio with my wife, Kate, and right in front of Katie Abrams I popped the question. I said to Katie, ‘I think there’s a chance that J.J. could direct Star Wars. What do you think of that?’ And Katie turned to J.J. and said, ‘That would be amazing. Really?’ And I went outside the restaurant, picked up my phone, called Kathy and said, “When can we meet with J.J.?” And that’s how the whole thing began.”"
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
L to R: Director/Producer/Screenwriter J.J. Abrams and Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan on set.
Ph: David James
I love how Spielberg describes convincing Abrams to direct The Force Awakens as “popping the question.” Also, anytime one’s wife is on board with the project, it’s literally a great thing. It reminds me of the old adage: Happy wife, happy life.
Now that Star Wars: The Force Awakens has finally exited theaters to a monster domestic box-office total of $936,662,225…I would say J.J. Abrams’ wife is more than likely extremely happy with him.
This is a neat inside look at what it took to bring the savior of the Star Wars saga, to the franchise…because whether you loved The Force Awakens or not, J.J. Abrams definitely saved and even revitalized Star Wars. And for that, we thank not only him, but Steven Spielberg as well.