“I think that the thing is so big and so massive to so many people that the key to moving forward is honoring but not revering what went before,” said JJ Abrams today about the challenges of directing the new Star Wars movie. Abrams also revealed that production on Star Wars Episode VII is set to start right at the beginning of 2014. “Most likely we are going to be moving to London at the end of the year for the Star Wars movie,” said the Star Trek Into Darkness director Saturday at the Produced By conference on the Fox lot. Abrams added that the overseas shoot “drives me insane” as he would have liked to film the movie in LA. He also noted that the plan to shoot Star Wars Episode VII for Disney in the UK was set before he was brought on board. The director joked that getting the offer to helm the new Star Wars was the only thing that would have caused him to postpone a long set family vacation.
Abrams made the comments Saturday in conversation with Django Unchained producer Reginald Hudlin at the 5th annual PGA event. Last month, Disney and Lucasfilm announced that the Abrams-directed and Michael Arndt-scripted movie will be shooting in the UK. The latest incarnation of the Star Wars franchise is expected to come out in 2015 with two more films about the Force to follow over the next few years.
Not that the director was saying much more about his upcoming Star Wars gig. “No comment,” replied Abrams with a smile on his face to a question from Hudlin if the new Star Wars movies would be based partially on the dozens of novels that have come out over the years bridging various unexplored aspects of the films’ characters. Abrams did discuss his feelings about the future of George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars saga, after he sold Lucasfilms to Disney last year. “George Lucas has spoken for years about wanting to make those smaller, more experimental films and I hope he does because I’d really like to see them,” he said.
The discussion today kicked off with a sizzle reel of Abrams’ work that included clips from Lost, Alias, Fringe, Person of Interest, Super 8 and the Mission Impossible and Star Trek films. The duo also discussed how thanks to strong support from Tom Cruise, Abrams was given the OK by Paramount to make his feature directorial debut with M.I. 3, film vs. digital, how he got into the business, the strategy or rather lack there of that his Bad Robot company has and the strong women characters in his work among other topics. “Women are awesome,” Abrams said to cheers from the crowd before touching on the influence of his mother and other strong women in his life. Additionally Abrams, who spent part of Friday at a DNC fundraiser with President Obama, Bob Iger and other Hollywood heavyweights at Peter Chernin’s house, discussed his political affiliations, emphasizing his belief in “giving back.”
Produced By continues Sunday.
Deadline's Dominic Patten - tip him here.