J.J. Abrams on ‘Star Wars’: “No, I’m Not Going to Do This”

The man is a mad ingenue of film franchises.

Mission: Impossible. Star Trek. Shoot, mindbending science fiction overall. His Midas Touch has turned balls of yarn into gold as he weaves a tapestry of greatness. He did the same thing with Star Wars sequels. Then, the demarcated The Last Jedi hit theaters.

People appreciated it for its story telling in continuing the Skywalker saga, but it didn’t quite ring everyone’s bell. J.J. Abrams did more than listen to the haters, the critics, and the trolls. He almost quit because of them, as we discover in a Fast Company exclusive.

There was an actual moment when I nearly said, ‘No, I’m not going to do this.’

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.

We have often believed the best directors of any genre must be fans of it first. For that reason, Steven S. Deknight made an unprecedented series with Daredevil. It’s why Kevin Feige has delivered a cinematic universe that is second to none. And, it’s also the motivating force behind Alias, Lost, Fringe, Westworld, and The Force Awakens.

J.J. Abrams is a geek. A really smart and freakishly talented one. Now imagine he was never here. Where would Star Wars be? Kinda’ makes you shudder thinking about it as we get even closer to the unnamed Episode IX. Turns out, he was this close from leaving.

I left loving Star Wars as much as I did when I got there. Like, somehow, it was on a personal, selfish level something I was really happy to have done. Not just excited about doing but happy to have done. And to ask to have that happen again, I felt a little bit like I was playing with fire.

So, how come he signed up with Episode IX to bring this prodigious chapter to a close. Surprisingly to many Star Wars troll who look like Jawas on a midnight bender, it wasn’t a “what” but a “who” — his wife.

There was a moment when I literally said, ‘No,’ and Katie said, ‘You should do this.’ And my first thought was, has she met someone? And then I thought, she’s usually right about stuff.

To lure him into the final story of this franchise took more than a Brinks truck. It took realization there was still a story to tell. It someone who knows him best.

What about Ben and Rey? What about Luke? What about the way of the Jedi? Only J.J. Abrams could tell that story and give Disney the launching pad into The Mandalorian or whatever in the cosmos David Benioff and D.B. Weiss of Game of Thrones fame can create. (And yes Disney, take all our money for that one.)

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.

No one knows the future for J.J. Abrams after Star Wars. No one knows if Bad Robot becomes the new breeding ground for DC Comics. The one thing everyone knows is that Episode IX is going to wrap this year in the warmth of a Jedi hug.

A very profitable and fantastic hug. We’ll experience that on December 20.

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