‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’: J.J. Abrams Talks Fans, Secrecy, and Andy Serkis

     August 14, 2015

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There has been quite a bit of information from Star Wars: The Force Awakens that’s come out over the last week, all leading up to Disney’s D23 Expo. Since the fan convention is currently underway in Anaheim, California, we can expect a lot more before the weekend is out. Case in point, today we have some more quotes from director J.J. Abrams regarding the rabid Star Wars fandom and his acknowledgement of it throughout the filming process, as well as comments on sound designer Ben Burtt, and Andy Serkis’ performance as Supreme Leader Snoke.

As part of EW’s extensive coverage of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Abrams addressed some of the facets of the movie that are often left out of movie coverage interviews, namely the fan base, sound design, and motion-capture performances. First and foremost, the fans:


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Image via Lucasfilm

“One of the great things that Lucasfilm has done over the years is embracing the community of Star Wars fans, and it’s because they realize that it’s really the fans’ story, and that understanding, that sharing of information and engaging with the fans is something that I really admire. My instinct is to typically keep things quiet – and if I had my way, perhaps we would be showing less – but the truth is, I want to make sure that the fans aren’t feeling like we are holding back for the sake of it.”

There’s that Abrams “mystery box” mantra we know and love! The nice thing about it this time around is that he seems genuinely interested in making sure fans feel secure that their beloved property is in good hands. Ironically, the fanbase itself is making it somewhat easier for him to keep things close to the vest:

“I also have read more comments than I ever expected where people say, ‘don’t spoil it for me, don’t show me everything, don’t ruin the story, I don’t want to know it yet,’ and I’m always grateful for that. So it’s a little bit of a tightrope, and we want to make sure we’re being forthcoming, but that we’re not spoiling.”

And despite everything we’ve seen from Star Wars: The Force Awakens already, they’re still polishing up some aspects of it. It seems like they’re also having a bit of fun deciding what they release, whether it’s a nod to something meaningful in the movie itself, or just a red herring:

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Image via Getty

“We’re doing the best we can to simply finish this movie, and make it as good as it can be, and at the same time, dole out moments and characters and images that will be in line with what Lucas has been doing for so many years. There are many things that have been seen that of course can’t be understood yet. Some things are throwaways; some things are more important. But the fundamental thing is the movie, and wanting to make sure that we are platforming and helping where we can, but not in any way ruining or divulging things that would make the experience of seeing the movie lessen.”

Moving on from placating the fandom, Abrams was then asked about teaming up with long-time Star Wars sound designer, Burtt:

“I can’t talk about what he’s doing specifically on this movie, but I’ll say that I’m thrilled to get to work with Ben again. We worked together on the Star Trek films, on Super 8, and now on this. We also are lucky to have Gary Rydstrom, of course, and Matt Wood. We have an amazing sound team.”

And while fans might be frustrated to know that Abrams didn’t reveal anything about Serkis’ character in the movie, those who appreciate the actor’s dedication to furthering motion-capture performance might be interested in what Abrams had to say:


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Image via Lucasfilm

“I have nothing about him yet, but I will say that Andy Serkis is like working with someone who is an historically great actor. He is the kindest, sweetest, most lovely guy, so it’s not that he puts on any airs of being pretentious or anything at all, but he’s simply so damn good, that when I’m working with him, I feel like I’m working with someone who is, you know, like a Charles Laughton, or someone who is just so extraordinary. Then there’s the whole matter of how he incorporates technology in a way that no one has seen or done… There are many levels to his genius, but he is certainly a genius.”

In conclusion, Abrams makes a rare confession among directors, admitting doubt and uncertainty:

“I’m sure that there are people who are probably far more capable, who don’t doubt themselves or where they find themselves, but I found that we were constantly questioning and asking and then when something was undeniable, you just go with it, and are grateful for it.”

We’ll have plenty more on Star Wars: The Force Awakens as D23 rolls on, but for now, feel free to peruse some of the latest articles below:


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