As the release of director J.J. Abrams’ sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, the filmmaker is understandably going to be inundated with questions about Star Wars: Episode VII. While we will likely see all kinds of evasions and non-answers from Abrams while on the publicity circuit (and again, understandably so), the director recently sat down with the folks at Playboy for an extended interview, and it’s probably more revealing than anything you’re going to see in the coming months. Abrams discusses his approach to Episode VII and how much input he has into the story, the possibility of him directing Star Trek 3, and even Cloverfield 2 and the prospect of an Alias movie. Hit the jump to read on.
First and foremost, let’s get to the Star Wars bits. Naturally Abrams couldn’t get into story details, but he did talk abstractly about his approach to the project as a filmmaker in the Playboy interview (via /Film):
“It’s so early it would be insane to discuss details or get into plot points about what this unfilmed movie will be. And I’m not going to give my opinion on the original movies or characters… I try to approach a project from what it’s asking. What does it need to be? What is it demanding? With Star Wars, one has to take into account what has preceded it, what worked, what didn’t. There are cautionary tales for anything you take on that has a legacy—things you look at and think, I want to avoid this or that, or I want to do more of something. But even that feels like an outside-in approach, and it’s not how I work. For me, the key is when you have a script; it’s telling you what it wants to be.”
In other words, don’t look for Abrams to be trashing Jar Jar Binks publicly anytime soon. The interviewer then suggested that Star Wars certainly needs to look different than Star Trek, to which Abrams responded:
“As with anything, because these are very different worlds, they shouldn’t feel the same aesthetically. They can’t. You’re right. But again, I don’t apply aesthetics first and fit a movie into that aesthetic. If I had come into Star Trek with those eyes, I would probably have been paralyzed. The advantage here is that we still have George Lucas with us to go to and ask questions and get his feedback on things, which I certainly will do. With Star Trek it was harder because I wasn’t a Star Trek fan; I didn’t have the same emotional feeling, and I didn’t have Gene Roddenberry to go to. But I came to understand the world of Star Trek, and I appreciated what fans felt and believed about this universe and this franchise.”
The director also touched on his initial comments to the press about his reluctance to tackle the franchise that is Star Wars by calling it “almost fatal sacrilege”:
“I meant if I viewed this from a fan’s point of view—and no one’s a bigger Star Wars fan than I am—or from a legacy standpoint, it would scare the hell out of me. But instead of trying to climb this mountain in one giant leap, I’m just enjoying the opportunity and looking to the people I’m working with. I’ve known Kathy for years. I’ve worked with the screenwriter, Michael Arndt, for a long time. I’ve known George for a number of years and he’s now a friend. Even if this wasn’t Star Wars, I’d be enormously fortunate to work with them.”
When asked how much of his personal vision he’s able to inject into the next installment of a billion dollar franchise, Abrams replied:
“For me to talk to you about what the big themes or ideas are before they exist is disingenuous, but naturally I have a big say in how this gets put together. When I get involved with something, I own it and carry the responsibility of the job.”
As for Star Trek, with Abrams committing to the behemoth that is Star Wars: Episode VII, many have doubted that the filmmaker will be able to return to the director’s chair for another Trek sequel in a timely manner. Given that Paramount will likely want to get moving sooner rather than later, it would appear that the schedules would conflict. However, Abrams isn’t counting himself out just yet. When asked if Star Wars puts him out of the running for Trek 3, he replied:
“No. I would say it’s a possibility. We’re trying to figure out the next step. But it’s like anything: It all begins with the story.”
The publication also asked about the long-in-development sequel to Cloverfield, but it doesn’t sound like it’s any closer to being a possibility:
“Part of me just wants to let [Cloverfield 2] go, though we’ve had a couple of discussions about cool ways to do it. I’m looking forward to seeing Pacific Rim this summer. It feels like there are some really big monsters coming down the pike that could inspire something we do.”
Something that is a possibility, though, is an Alias movie:
“We discuss it. In the right circumstance and situation I would definitely be open to it.”
It’s tough to image the director of Star Trek and Star Wars doing an Alias movie, but clearly the series is close to Abrams’ heart and the show does have quite a large fanbase. Nevertheless, it seems like it’d be something much further down the road, as Abrams will clearly be quite busy for the next few years with Episode VII and one presumes he’ll be involved in some capacity with the subsequent Star Wars films.
Head on over to Playboy to read the full interview, which is a great read and includes much, much more from Abrams.