It has been about three years since J.J. Abrams was officially named the director of the film that would come to be known as ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’. Before then, the ‘Star Trek’ director was content simply being a fan of George Lucas’ franchise from a galaxy far, far away. But, we’ve come to learn that two very important figures in were very influential in Abrams’ decision to take the job. First and foremost, his wife Katie reminded him that he would always regret it if he didn’t sign on for ‘Episode VII’. Then, when the opportunity to answer the question “Who is Luke Skywalker?” came from Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, the filmmaker agreed to take the leap. However, it appears that another influential figure had a hand in Abrams landing the job as well.
Recently, The Hollywood Reporter gathered the legendary trio of Kennedy, Frank Marshall, and Steven Spielberg to talk about their acclaimed collaborations (the most recent of which is the upcoming Roald Dahl adaptation ‘The BFG’), the current landscape of Hollywood, and the next generation that loves what came before it. When the talk shifted to ‘Star Wars’, Spielberg revealed that though he was never considered to direct ‘The Force Awakens’, he did speak rather highly of Abrams and was very proactive in getting him the job:
“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.’ 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’.’ 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.”
It has been well documented that Abrams is a huge fan of Spielberg, so it’s really cool to hear that one of his filmmaking idols helped him land one of the most coveted and feared jobs in Hollywood history. And judging by the popularity of the film, Spielberg’s instincts for finding the right person for the job were spot on.