JJ Abrams Turned Down Directing Star Wars Ep. VII Over Loyalty To Star Trek

Last month TrekMovie reported that even though he had been approached, JJ Abrams was not interested in directing the new Star Wars movie in development at Disney (who recently acquired LucasFilm). In a new interview Abrams offers more details on why he said no, notably that he feels a loyalty to Star Trek.


Abrams said no to Star Wars due to Trek loyalty – could franchises go head-to-head?

Half (2 out of 4) of JJ Abrams feature filmography as a director is dedicated to Star Trek, however he has admitted that when he was a kid, Star Wars was ‘more his thing.’ Even so, last month we reported that Abrams said he was not interested in helming the upcoming "Episode VII" Star Wars film (due out in 2015). Now, in a sidebar in the new issue of Empire Magazine, Abrams reveals more about how he was approached by Disney, and why he said ‘no’…

"There were the very early conversations and I quickly said that because of my loyalty to Star Trek, and also just being a fan, I wouldn’t even want to be involved in the next version of those things. I declined any involvement very early on. I’d rather be in the audience not knowing what was coming, rather than being involved in the minutiae of making them."

But what about the next Star Trek movie? Could it end up competing with the new Star Wars movie? Abrams also addressed this scenario, saying…

"I guess the franchises could go up against each other, but I’m not thinking that far ahead (laughs)…I’m a huge fan of Star Wars, Empire and Jedi, and the idea of the world continuing is exciting and will be amazing."

Abrams sticking with Star Trek

Of course to get a film out by 2015 (in time to compete directly with the Star Wars film), Paramount would have to go into development on another Star Trek film almost immediately after Into Darkness is released. If they wanted Abrams to return to the director’s chair, that is a very unlikely scenario as he has already expressed interest in working on another original film, which he and another writer are currently developing.

For his part, Chris Pine was also asked by Empire if he had any interest in working in that galaxy far far away, but he too seemed to defer to Trek, noting how he and the other actors are already committed to making another Star Trek movie.

Pine featured on the cover of Empire

Much more on Star Trek Into Darkness and from Pine and Abrams in the new issue of Empire Magazine. Pick up the digital copy at iTunes or on newstands on December 27th.

FLASHBACK: Abrams on being in the shadow of George Lucas

JJ Abrams has spoken about Star Trek and Star Wars before. Probably the most in-depth discussion was with the LA Times back in 2009 and it is worth revisiting now in light of how he has given up his chance to put his mark on both franchises…

LA Times: “Star Wars” vs. “Star Trek” is sort of a classic Beatles vs. Stones debate for sci-fi fans of a certain age. You have said you wanted to infuse your “Trek” revival with some lessons learned from the George Lucas universe. Can you talk about that?

JJ Abrams: Well, I’m just a fan of “Star Wars.” As a kid, “Star Wars” was much more my thing than “Star Trek” was. If you look at the last three “Star Wars” films and what technology allowed them to do, they covered so much terrain in terms of design, locations, characters, aliens, ships — so much of the spectacle has been done and it seems like every aspect has been covered, whether it’s geography or design of culture or weather system or character or ship type. Everything has been tapped in those movies. The challenge of doing “Star Trek” — despite the fact that it existed before “Star Wars” — is that we are clearly in the shadow of what George Lucas has done.

LA Times: How do you overcome that?

JJ Abrams: The key to me is to not ever try to outdo them because it’s a no-win situation. Those movies are so extraordinarily rendered that it felt to me that the key to “Star Trek” was to go from the inside-out: Be as true to the characters as possible, be as real and as emotional and as exciting as possible and not be distracted by the specter of all that the “Star Wars” film accomplished. For instance, we needed to establish that there are aliens in this universe and yet I didn’t want it to feel like every scene had four new multi-colored characters in it. That is something “Star Wars” did so well with its amazing creature design. The question is how do you subtly introduce the idea that there are different species here. And to also do it differently than the [“Trek”] TV shows, which basically had someone wearing a mask sitting in a chair [in the background]. It was the balance of doing what the story needed us to do but also not feeling like we were trying to rip off or out-do what Lucas did.

Speaking of Abrams and Lucas, here is a famous photo of the pair of them chatting in 2007.

JJ Abrams talking to George Lucas back in 2007

Sort by:   newest | oldest