Did you go and see Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet?! I finally had a chance to see it last night and it was absolutely INCREDIBLE. I have SO many more questions for J.J. Abrams now!! That said, we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to interview J.J. Abrams during my press trip in Los Angeles last week.
He is absolutely brilliant as an executive producer, that can be seen from his filmography alone. Shoot, he even managed to make Star Trek something I can stand watching 😉 (I am definitely NOT a Trekie)
Did you know that he originally TURNED DOWN the offer to produce this movie? Yup, shockingly enough! Thankfully, Kathleen Kennedy convinced him to take it on.
We asked him what did finally convince him to take on the role.
Kathleen said this is going to be an opportunity to continue the story since Return of the Jedi. As we were talking, I realized… this is 30 some years after the fact. The main characters would have been born 10-15 years after that movie. Looking back on what we know of the story, that would be ancient history for kids who are 19 – 20 years old. ‘What do they know? What do they believe and what do they believe in?’
The idea of finding these young people who exists in the Star Wars universe was so compelling to me, and that feeling of rediscovering a world and a feeling that was so powerful, for me growing up, was undeniable.
Imagine being in a position to CREATE that story? How awesome!! Especially as he GREW UP with Star Wars, he watched it as a kid, like many of us, it was part of his youth. He did have some great words about his approach to producing the film despite being a fan himself though. So did it effect his approach in producing it?
Of course it did because it was something that meant so much to me for so long. The thing is, because it’s been ingrained in all of our consciousnesses for so long, that it’s become a birth right to just know Star Wars. Your just sort of born and you know what a lightsaber is, Darth Vader you understand. At 3 years old kids talk about Star Wars in a way that is so eerie because you think ‘how can you possibly know so much’ and somehow they do. Even those kids who haven’t played the games or seen the shows. I don’t know how it is that they understand Star Wars immediately.
But my job wasn’t to be a fanboy, or an 11 year old kid. It was to be a nearly 50 year old movie director. So, I tried to approach this thing from the point of view of obviously, acknowledging how much I love what George Lucas created, but understand that being a fan doesn’t make the story work, doesn’t make the scene any good. Being a fan is great, but we all had to be storytellers and filmmakers.
I was surrounded by people like Lawrence Kasdan who had written the original Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and actors who had been there from the beginning, all the way through visual affects and sounds, to of course John Williams, who collaborating with him is like cheating because he speaks to our soul with music in a way that I think is super human. The whole process was really about trying to love it, but also be hard on it so that the story meant something, was emotional, and not just a fan film.
I love that quote about John Williams… “he speaks to our soul with music in a way that I think is super human.” And it IS! The music in this new movie is NO exception.
The amount of DETAIL that goes into making a movie like this is absolutely outstanding. J.J. had a part in every little bit, from the music (even adding in the insanely talented Lin-Manuel Miranda for scenes in the movie!), to CREATING BB-8. Coming up with Lupita Nyong’o’s character Yaz Kamata, the scenery, every little detail was SO well thought out.
One last thing that I loved was him telling us about how BB-8 was created.
We were working on the story trying to figure it out, and we knew we had a droid that was going to be a critical piece of the puzzle. But, we didn’t know if he was going to be bi-pedal like C3PO or roll around like R2D2, or some other thing. I just had this idea that if we had a sphere and semi-sphere on top, you could get quite a bit of expression without a face.
So I drew a sketch of BB-8 and I had the eye and the little antenna and everything. It didn’t have a color pattern and it didn’t have all the critical details that Neal Scanlan and his team brought in, but I sent that to Neal and they began to come up with designs that would sort of follow that. It was amazing how quickly it looked like it could work!
I didn’t know if they would be able to create something that could be performed on camera, which I knew was going to be important. And they did! I will never forget the first day that we came to their office to see BB-8, after we agreed on designs and scale and everything. We walked in and Brian the puppeteer came out and wheeled out BB-8 on his rig, and literally within seconds Brian disappeared.
He was right there, but he wasn’t there and this thing was looking around and curious and you could feel the soul because Brian was imbuing him with life. Daisy said earlier today ‘every time we weren’t shooting and we were on a break and BB-8 was just sort of sitting there not being performed, it was like heartbreaking’ because he was this inert thing, and you were like ‘where is he’ and Brian would get him and you’d be like ‘there he is.’ it was all a result of Neal Scanlan and his amazing team.
Oh and MAKE SURE YOU SEE THIS ONE IN 3D!! I saw it last night in the IMAX and 3D and I can’t imagine NOT seeing it in 3D. The effects were outstanding. Not overdone. J.J. even agrees!
I’m not always the biggest 3D fan, but I will tell you there are things in this movie that I actually felt were shockingly better in 3D. There were literally shots that I couldn’t believe I saw things in 3D that I hadn’t seen in 2D. It was so strange. I know this might sound like I’m selling the 3D, and to anyone who doesn’t really care, see it in 2D, don’t see it in 3D, that’s okay. I was amazed at how great that looked. Every stage has been as gratifying as it was challenging and it’s all because of the unparalleled and unbelievable work that everyone did at every turn and I’m very grateful.
It is IN THEATERS NOW!! Go see it!!
(Photo Credit to Mom Start)