Friday, June 17, 2016

Steven Spielberg Discusses How He Got J.J. Abrams To Direct 'The Force Awakens'

By: Benjamin Hart

Although he has yet to be heavily involved in any Star Wars productions so far, legendary director and filmmaker Steven Spielberg has always stayed close to the saga. Being a lifelong friend to Star Wars creator George Lucas ensured Spielberg's influence on the saga over the years, and he even lent a hand on select sequences in Revenge Of The Sith as an assistant director. But it seems now that his biggest contribution thus far came after Lucas sold his company to Disney.

Back when a director for Star Wars: The Force Awakens had yet to be selected, Spielberg's name was one of several possible contenders that fans speculated about. Unbeknownst to most, at the same time Spielberg was secretly lobbying for another director to get the job. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, which Spielberg did alongside longtime colleague and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and her husband Frank Marshall, he explains how he managed to get J.J. Abrams involved with The Force Awakens:

"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."

And on a side note, the interviewer also asked Kathleen Kennedy what they look for in a Star Wars director, especially in relation to the dramatic hiring and departure of Josh Trank last year. While she didn't comment on Trank, she did however provide some insight into the process:

"It's all instinctual. One of the things I've come to realize since I've been in this position of keeping Star Wars going is that in addition to looking for somebody who can creatively have an impact, you're really looking for leadership skills. No one steps into these big movies without being able to genuinely lead the charge with hundreds of people and [handle] the relationship with the studio. That's a very difficult thing to do, and you don't know [a person can do] that until you get to spend time and watch somebody operate. It's a strange time in our lives where we're hiring many filmmakers who have been influenced by the movies that we've made over the years."

Spielberg also added:

"Well, it's like a passing of the torch. I know what it feels like to my generation looking back at the filmmakers who influenced us. And yet we're not them, we're ourselves, and we have to figure out what kind of a voice we have. You've got to be able to have heroes you aspire to be like, but you can't imitate them. You have to figure out what you have to contribute to the art form."

It's great to hear it straight from Spielberg about how Abrams came to be the director and the part he played in making it happen. The further wisdom from Spielberg and Kennedy is also a treat. Be sure to head over to The Hollywood Reporter to read everything said by Spielberg, Kennedy and Marshall.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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