After Star Wars: The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams was done with Star Wars. He set out to reinvigorate the franchise and start a brand new trilogy for other directors to shape. At the time Rian Johnson was slated for Episode VIII (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), and Colin Trevorrow for Episode IX. Fast forward a few years and things changed a bit.
After the death of Carrie Fisher, which no doubt required a change to the Episode IX script, Colin Trevorrow departed, and Lucasfilm quickly turned to the director that brought the franchise back from dormancy – J.J. Abrams.
In a new interview with the website Fast Company, Abrams opened up about returning to the galaxy far, far away, and dealing with multiple visions into one cohesive finale.
“I wasn’t supposed to be there. I wasn’t the guy, ya’ know? I was working on some other things, and I had something else that I was assuming would be the next project, if we’d be so lucky,” Abrams revealed when asked how he felt about being brought in to helm Episode IX following Colin Treverrow’s sudden departure.
“The whole thing was a crazy leap of faith. And there was an actual moment when I nearly said, ‘No, I’m not going to do this,'” Abrams recalled, “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.”
And to ask to have that happen again, I felt a little bit like I was playing with fire. Like, why go back? We managed to make it work. What the hell am I thinking? And there was a moment when I literally said, “No,” and Katie [McGrath, Abram’s wife and co-CEO of Bad Robot] said, “You should do this.” And my first thought was, has she met someone? And then I thought, she’s usually right about stuff. And 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…
Merging separate visions for the trilogy and wrapping up not only it, but the entire saga as well proved to be a tough job. J.J. handled it in a way only he could.
I had some gut instincts about where the story would have gone. But without getting in the weeds on episode eight, that was a story that Rian wrote and was telling based on seven before we met. So he was taking the thing in another direction. So we also had to respond to Episode VIII. So our movie was not just following what we had started, it was following what we had started and then had been advanced by someone else. So there was that, and, finally, it was resolving nine movies. While there are some threads of larger ideas and some big picture things that had been conceived decades ago and a lot of ideas that Lawrence Kasdan and I had when we were doing Episode VII, the lack of absolute inevitability, the lack of a complete structure for this thing, given the way it was being run was an enormous challenge.
Retconning some of Star Wars: The Last Jedi doesn’t bother Rian Johnson, as he stated in a recent interview. In fact Rian was excited to see what Abrams was going to do with Episode IX, and didn’t want to know ahead of time, although the two did speak briefly.
Knowing that Rian took Star Wars: The Last Jedi in a bit of a different direction than what he and Kasdan envisioned, came with its on set of hurdles. However, J.J. feels confident in the upcoming film.
I feel like we might’ve done it. Like, I actually feel like this crazy challenge that could have been a wildly uncomfortable contortion of ideas, and a kind of shoving-in of answers and Band-Aids and bridges and things that would have felt messy. Strangely, we were sort of relentless and almost unbearably disciplined about the story and forcing ourselves to question and answer some fundamental things that at the beginning, I absolutely had no clue how we would begin to address. I feel like we’ve gotten to a place—without jinxing anything or sounding more confident than I deserve to be—I feel like we’re in a place where we might have something incredibly special. So I feel relief being home, and I feel gratitude that I got to do it. And more than anything, I’m excited about what I think we might have.
Clearly we can expect something exciting for the upcoming film, and just a mere days away from the first trailer, the anticipation is building.
About Star Wars: Episode IX:
The cast includes Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd. Joining the cast of Episode IX are Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant, and Keri Russell, who will be joined by veteran Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher and Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian.
Star Wars: Episode IX will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Michelle Rejwan, and executive produced by Callum Greene and Jason McGatlin. The crew includes Dan Mindel (Director of Photography), Rick Carter and Kevin Jenkins (Co-Production Designers), Michael Kaplan (Costume Designer), Neal Scanlan (Creature and Droid FX), Maryann Brandon and Stefan Grube (Editors), Roger Guyett (VFX Supervisor), Tommy Gormley (1st AD), and Victoria Mahoney (2nd Unit Director).
Release is scheduled for December 2019.