In a new interview from The Hollywood Reporter, Kim Masters sits down with the Hollywood dream team: director Steven Spielberg, producer Kathleen Kennedy and her husband, Frank Marshall. Together, the three of them co-founded Amblin Entertainment, the production company that brought us such iconic films as Jurassic Park, Schindler's List, E.T. and many more.
When faced with the task of finding the right director to revive the Star Wars franchise, there was only one name on their minds: J.J. Abrams. It had to be Abrams. But according to Spielberg, Abrams wasn't exactly leaping at the opportunity:
“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 [Kathleen Kennedy, producer and co-founder of Amblin Entertainement] 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.’”
Spielberg's refusal to settle is part of what's made him one of the greatest directors of all time, and he wasn't about to start taking no for an answer. He decided to go right to the source, J.J.'s wife, Katie:
“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.”
Well played, Spielberg!
Now, the thought of The Force Awakens being directed by anyone other than Abrams is completely unimaginable. Kathleen Kennedy sums it up perfectly as she describes what it's like to successfully revive a beloved franchise for a new generation of audiences:
"There is nothing more thrilling than that — to introduce a new generation to something that the previous generation loved so much, and yet there is a way to modernize it and move it into a more contemporary environment and keep it going. Because you know, audiences love these movies."
Despite the monumental success of Episode 7, J.J. Abrams has decided that directing one Star Wars film was enough. He'll be passing the torch to Breaking Bad director Rian Johnson, but will still be involved as an executive producer.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Would you have been able to say no to Steven Spielberg? What do you think of the story of how J.J. Abrams got the job?