J.J. Abrams And The Secrets of ‘Skywalker’

Director J.J. Abrams is trying to talk about his new Star Wars movie, but the process of making it keeps intruding. He’s in his office on the second floor of his Bad Robot production company’s Willy Wonka-worthy headquarters in Santa Monica, and his assistant keeps opening the door to pass him notes, as Abrams’ iPhone buzzes with increasingly urgent-seeming texts from the film’s visual-effects supervisor. He’s fresh from a stage over at Sony Studios, where John Williams was conducting an orchestra through the score for December 20th’s Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. Just last week, Abrams was doing reshoots right here at Bad Robot, in a green-screen room that allows him maximum movie-tweaking flexibility. It’s mid-October, and the film is 71 days away from release.

Episode IX was supposed to be written and directed by Colin Trevorrow of Jurassic World fame, until Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy reportedly rejected his screenplay, though Lucasfilm calls it a mutual parting of ways. That opened the door for Abrams, who directed 2015’s The Force Awakens, to jump back in with co-screenwriter Chris Terrio and start from scratch — hence the current crunch.

 

“It’s probably a lot easier than being a schoolteacher,” Abrams says. “But it has very particular challenges. Especially when you’re directing, and you’ve got people in the scene that aren’t human. When you have, in some cases, a scene with someone no longer living.” Among the trials of Episode IX, in addition to forging a satisfying conclusion to one of the most loved stories of the modern world, was dealing with the tragic and sudden 2016 death of Carrie Fisher. Unlike Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, the character of Leia is still alive in the saga, a dilemma Abrams resolved via unused Force Awakens footage.

Abrams just struck a massive production deal with Disney rival WarnerMedia, which could get his hands on Superman, Batman, and the rest of the DC Comics pantheon — there are a notable number of Superman toys among the whimsical decorations downstairs. “We haven’t had those discussions yet,” Abrams says, not quite convincingly.

Read the Rolling Stone Interview HERE.

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