ByJM Prater, writer at
JM Prater

J.J. Abrams is One of Us

I will always remember the moment I heard the news of Star Wars Episode VII. It was a rainy Chicago night. I was parked outside a large apartment complex waiting for my brother. I had my phone out, and was scrolling through movie news per my usual as the news came through the internet wires.

Disney Buys Lucasfilm, Announces New Star Wars Movie For 2015

All I could think about at that point was getting home and taking part in what would be the explosion of internet fandom at the release of this wonderful news. The Star Wars community was on fire with discussion. What would this new trilogy be about? No George Lucas? It has to be better then the Prequel Trilogy right? (Episodes One, Two and Three which chronicles the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker). So many questions, no answers.

What was for sure was that most of us believed we would see the return of the original actors who made up the triumvirate from Episodes Four, Five and Six. None other then Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford. None of this speculation would be confirmed until the early part of 2014, 18 months before the film was scheduled to release. The question hanging over everyone’s head was ‘who would direct Star Wars Episode VII? George Lucas took himself out of the running as he would now only serve in a creative consulting capacity. I think most of us breathed a collective sigh of relief there.

So many names would be tossed in as possible contenders for directing, Steven Spielberg, Lawrence Kasdan, Peter Jackson? There were so many possibilities. J.J. Abrams didn’t jump aboard quickly. When asked about possibly directing Episode VII, Abrams said…

“Look, Star Wars is one of my favorite movies of all time,” Abrams told Hollywood Life when asked about the rumors. “I frankly feel that — I almost feel that, in a weird way, the opportunity for whomever it is to direct that movie, it comes with the burden of being that kind of iconic movie and series. I was never a big Star Trek fan growing up, so for me, working on Star Trek didn’t have any of that, you know, almost fatal sacrilege, and so, I am looking forward more [than] anyone to the next iterations of Star Wars, but I believe I will be going as a paying moviegoer!”

He took himself out of the running. It wouldn’t end there. Months would go by until we knew that Kathleen Kennedy, the newly hired president of Lucasfilm, lobbied for Abrams to direct the film. Finally there would be confirmation. J.J. Abrams would be directing Star Wars Episode VII. Fandom erupted again.

Disney Confirms J.J. Abrams To Direct New ‘Star Wars’ Movie For Disney

J.J. Abrams is a divisive name among movie nerds. I had known who he was. I had seen a few episodes of LOST, and I was an avid fan of FRINGE, his very unique and very nostalgic show on Fox. There has been much hate thrown JJ’s way for his take on Star Trek, and an equal amount of love for his vision. I didn’t connect to Star Trek: Into Darkness as much as I connected to his first foray into all things Trek. I was however swept up by Super 8. Super 8 conjured everything that made youth magical. JJ captured a spirit of wonder in Super 8 that I’ve only seen Steven Spielberg able to successfully do.

When it was confirmed that JJ would be directing Episode VII I was immediately excited. Having read up on him, finding out how Star Wars A New Hope excited him as a teenager in 1977, how it propelled him into movie making, I knew we were in good hands. If some one were to ask me what would make a great director for a Star Wars picture, I would say that they have to have a love for the material, they would need to be a fan. If they weren’t a fan, I’m not sure they would understand the mechanics of what made the first trilogy of films so great. I knew that JJ was aware of the chemistry and the magic that made the first three films so incredible.

“As a kid I was always a fan of special effects,” Abrams said. “Watching movies I was constantly trying to figure out how they did it, whatever the effect was. Star Wars was the first movie that blew my mind in that way; it didn’t matter how they did any of it because it was all so overwhelmingly and entirely great. It was funny and romantic and scary and compelling and the visual effects just served the characters and story. It galvanized for me; not for what was exciting about how movies were made, but rather for what movies were capable of.”

-J.J. Abrams


When news came that JJ and Lawrence Kasdan (co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back) would team up to rewrite the script that Michael Arndt had turned in (for Epsiode VII), my excitement reached the stratosphere. If there was anything that I could hope for was that some one responsible for the wonder that was The Empire Strikes Back to jump aboard Star Wars Episode VII and contribute to its telling.

There are people out there who believe he will fail. There are people out there who hope he fails (which I will never understand). I do not think there’s a perfect director. JJ has made his fair of mistakes and misfires. Even our most prized heroes have their flaws. What I do know is that JJ, like me, was captured by Star Wars as a boy. That magic cast its spell and it threw him into a world of movie making. JJ is me, I am J.J. Abrams. We as fans of Star Wars are J.J. Abrams.…so in love with Star Wars that we want it to do well and to thrive, not just live. JJ, like all of us wants to present a story of Star Wars that makes us fall in love all over again.

I am not a betting man. I would bet that this film will be more then just good, it will be great.

J.J. Abrams is one us. He is one of us because like so many who fell in love with the movies, it happened when he saw Star Wars. Star Wars catapulted him into movie making, it inspired his his life and his dreams. He is one of us because he wants to see the Star Wars universe do well and carry on as something that inspires future generations. If he does well, then Star Wars will do well.

J.J. Abrams is one of us.

J M Prater


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