This past weekend, actor Greg Grunberg (best known for his role as telepath cop Matt Parkman on [Heroes](movie:926822)) announced that he will be joining the plethora of stars on the bill for [Star Wars: Episode VII](movie:711158). A friend of J.J. Abrams since kindergarten, the star replied to an inquiring follower, who probably followed his career just a tad more closely than the rest of us:
While it's not widely advertised, Grunberg and Abrams have worked together for over two decades - probably before that, I'm sure, since the two were childhood friends. In fact, Grunberg has had a role in many of Abrams' films in some form of another, so congrats to the educated fan who asked Greg that question!
It really all started back in the very early 90's, when Abrams, Grunberg, and Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) collaborated on ...
Mr. Petrified Forrest (1994)
This was actually a student film by Reeves for USC as part of his Masters thesis and the Future Shock anthology; it released in 1994 and was extremely well-received for it's incredible writing and stand-out format in comparison to most 16mm-shot student films. You can watch the full 26-minute film on Vimeo. This same creative team would collaborate a few years later on...
Felicity was one of Abrams' early television projects, finding years of success before the show ended in 2002. Grunberg landed a supporting role as inventive-yet-goofy Sean Blumberg, who's creations ranged from condoms that would play the happy birthday song to flavored pen caps.
In J.J. Abrams' action-espionage show Alias, Greg Grunberg played sarcastic CIA agent Eric Weiss, a descendant of Houdini who created magic by doling out some great advice and having just the right tinge of dry humor to sedate several tense moments.
Lost (Pilot, 2004)
Grunberg only appeared in the Pilot episode of Abrams' hit series, Lost, but his part was fairly integral to the series: Not only was he the pilot of the plane that went down, he was also one of the first to die at the hands of the Island's "Monster". Though he was originally slated to come back for the final episode, his scenes were sadly cut.
The Catch and What About Brian (2005 and 2006)
Both of these appearances were only in pilot episodes, but Grunberg faithfully showed up when his pal Abrams needed him for these roles. The Catch, unfortunately, was dropped, and What About Brian went on to be another notch in Abrams' belt.
Star Trek (2009)
Greg Grunberg only features in this film via voice work as Kirk's Stepfather, but it's still pretty darn cool that he was able to take part in Star Trek. This, probably, is what really led fans to believe that Grunberg could show up in Episode VII because of Abrams. His Heroes co-star, Zachary Quinto, took a lead role as Spock and completely owned it, just in case you somehow missed that.
Super 8 (2011)
While promoting Love Bites, Grunberg confirmed that he'd be appearing in Abrams' love letter to Stephen Spielberg's sci-fi stories, Super 8. While he's hardly visible Grunberg portrays a sitcom actor on television in the alien's den.
Which leads us to Star Wars... almost. See, there's one integral Abrams movie that he's missing in:
Star Trek: Into Darkness
Notably missing from one of Abrams' biggest sequels ever is Greg Grunberg, who doesn't have any credits for the film. Out of pure coincidence, Into Darkness is viewed by many fans as the worst Star Trek film ever. I don't wanna' say it's the lack of Grunberg, but y'know... your childhood buddy being your lucky charm isn't a bad thing.
While there are no details on Grunberg's role in Episode VII (because JJ would kill him) it's still super exciting to see him get a chance at being part of such an incredible franchise. May the Force be with You, Officer Parkman - always!
Star Wars: Episode VII releases on December 18, 2015.