Having received acclaim for his revival of the “Star Wars” franchise with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” filmmaker J.J. Abrams got out of the director’s chair quick smart – handing over the reins to other filmmakers.
Talking to Fortune magazine this week, Abrams says it was a deliberate choice as to why he didn’t want to direct any further “Star Wars” films:
“It was a wonderful way to visit a place that meant so much to me and obviously so many. I knew that if it worked, it was the perfect time to step down – and if it didn’t, no one would want me to do it anyway.”
Abrams is now quite happy where he is, serving as executive producer on the franchise in the same way he still is with the “Mission: Impossible” and “Star Trek” franchises after directing entries in those series. Doing so allows him to stay in the loop creatively, but also lets others handle the more mundane and harder day-to-day jobs:
“I’m very happy to be where I am. Rian Johnson [who is currently directing Episode Eight] is brilliant and needs no help from me. As executive producer, I’ve been collaborating with them, but they are obviously doing all of the heavy lifting and it’s very exciting to see what’s going on.”
The comments come as part of an article about “Westworld,” HBO’s ambitious sci-fi western series reimagining of Michael Crichton’s iconic 1973 film. The series, which is being steered by Jonathan Nolan, Abrams, Bryan Burk, Lisa Joy and Jerry Weintraub, has famously hit a few snags during production and had to shut down temporarily in January due to the writing falling behind.
Abrams says he’s thankful the network is being patient with those involved as the results will ultimately be worth it:
“Westworld is one of those things I’ve wanted to work on for so long. I had a meeting probably 21 years ago with Michael Crichton [who wrote and directed the 1973 original film] about doing this. And it’s taken along time to get this going.
At the heart of Westworld is this story of consciousness and oppression and discover. It’s one of the projects I feel most grateful and lucky to be a part of. What [the directorial team has] done is so stunning and cool and they’re not rushing it because of business maters and the network is giving them the time. That is never a bad move.”
A new trailer for “Westworld”, which stars the likes of Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris, screened at SXSW last week. No word on when it or the series will premiere.