J.J. Abrams talks Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker | NowThis Nerd

– Hi everyone, I'm Moose, and a little while ago, I had the chance to sit down with JJ

Abrams, director of 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,' mere days after he wrapped production on one of the most anticipated films of all time JJ and I talked about the mysteries of 'Star Wars' past and what we lose by explaining so much, the future of the series and whether it still has a place in cinema, his thoughts on if the theatrical cuts of the Original Trilogy will ever see the light of day, and a whole lot more, but first, we talked about what it's like crunching on a blockbuster with a nine-figure budget weeks before it comes out – I'm J

J Abrams and you're watching Now This Nerd (orchestral music) – Who is still involved at this point of production? – Visual effects usually being done until the very end They're usually a handful of shots that are still coming in because they're, like almost 2,000 shots, visual effect shots in the movie We did a recording session, John Williams last 'Star Wars' recording session with an orchestra and a full choir last week

So it was our last session we had We've had about you 10 or 12 sessions This was always in the schedule It was just insane to be there realizing we have a month before the movie comes out and there are 100 musicians playing music that will go to the movie, so it just it was super close – When you're doing something on such a massive global scale, I imagine, there's a lot of cuts being passed between people, a lot of scripts that may or may not end up in hotel rooms

How do you keep things secret in a project as big as this? It's not like the 'Return of the Jedi,' where you just call it 'Blue Harvest' and no one knows what you're doing How do you maintain that secrecy while working with so many different partners all over the world? – Right, well, it's a double-edged sword in a way that the thing that you desperately hope for is that people care, that they're interested When you have people who are interested and care, they're peeking in and trying to figure out what it is you're doing So there are leaks and there are reports and sometimes they're entirely wrong and other times, they're close to what it is It's amazing to me how much has been kept secret despite the number of people who have been working on this project

I mean, when you look at everyone, not just on the set, which is, hundreds and hundreds of people and the actors and the background actors who aren't there every day, who might be more inclined to speak about what was going on, but haven't But to the thousands of visual effects people who see this thing, the people in editorial, the people all through post-production, there are so many people when you see those nine minutes of credits at the end and literally thousands and thousands of names It's insane to me that more doesn't get released – I can't think of a single series that has sparked more speculation and imagination and questions than 'Star Wars' And as it sort of originally existed, there was a lot more mystery, right? The Clone Wars was just something offhandedly mentioned– – That's correct

– In that conversation between Luke and Ben – You've found the Clone Wars? – Yes, I was once a Jedi Knight, the same as your father – And when you're a kid, you're just like, "What are the Clone Wars? "Was there a mutant army of clones?" – Well, that was why for me, the prequel trilogy was less my thing, partly because, I don't wanna know about medical origins I don't wanna know that the force comes from something that's in your blood I'm not saying that's not what it is

And if that's what it is for George, then that's what it is But it just wasn't interesting to me the way the idea of energy that surrounds and binds us together like that to me, feels like something that I can believe in and invest in, in a way that it doesn't necessarily need rational thought and explanation – I don't understand – Do we lose a little bit of the magic when you set things in stone? Where is the balance of like, do I wanna explain this or do I wanna leave this? To me it's very– – That's the question with every story, which is how much do you need to explicitly explain? And I would argue, in some cases, a lot and enough and in some cases, the fun is not knowing And some movies and some stories play on that

'Pulp Fiction,' if you knew what was in that case, they wouldn't be as good as not knowing If '2001' ended with a completely logical, easy to explain ending, we might not be talking about it today Those are examples of extreme mystery But I feel like, in something like Star Wars, it ultimately is a family film And you have to be able to make things understandable to the whole family on some level

And I think, answers are really important, which is why I doing 'Rise of Skywalker,' we wanted to make sure people were given concrete answers to some fundamental questions, not to demystify everything, but to make sure that people left feeling like it was a conclusion – Is there one 'Star Wars' mystery that like even you given your sort of inside position, is there one thing in 'Star Wars' you never wanna learn the answer to? Something you just wanna stay mysterious forever – I'm sure there are a lot of those things But my favorite thing you mentioned this earlier My favorite thing about the original trilogy was the offhand reference to things that that you didn't understand but didn't need to because it painted a picture on its own of the peripheral vision of what was happening in 'Star Wars

' You knew what you were looking at, but the references to, the old wars, the references to the Senate, the emperor There were these things that you just you felt the scope and scale of this world without needing to spend time in the Senate, you just knew Damn, I can, I believe this entire world because it's being so brilliantly referred to But I don't necessarily need to be in that thing or understand the mechanics of that thing It's almost like a like a Japanese fairy tale that, you'd hear and there'd be references to things culturally that you might not understand, that I might not understand, but you can infer what the meaning is

And weirdly, sometimes there's more resonant power in not understanding everything than there is in getting to spend time in the Senate – I subscribed to Disney Plus before I even watched 'the Mandolorian,' the first thing I did was cue up that gorgeous 4K transfer of 'A New Hope,' we get to the cantina There's the devil guy, there's the wolf man Han Solo sits down with a nice little bounty hunter named Greedo – And what does he say? – He says, "Maclunkey", and they shoot at the same time

– Maclunkey (laser gun fires) – Would you, as a fan, like to see the theatrical versions made available commercially? – Yes, and I have asked about this 'cause who wouldn't wanna see that? But I've been told that, for reasons that I don't quite understand that that's not necessarily possible – Interesting – Which is too bad because that was the thing that I love In fact, it's funny when we were working on 'Force Awakens,' we were talking about this one scene with Vader and the Emperor and we were having this disagreement about what was said in a way that was, like we both thought crazy

And we realized we were talking about two different versions, because there's like the sort of despecialized version which you can see online, someone got me a version but it's apparently not at the quality level that one needs release of a 4K version And then, there was the official version So there was the original theatrical version and then the version that people see now (screaming) I guess, it's what George Lucas wanted and that's what he did, and so I respect that although I also feel like there's something about the original theatrical version that was, for so many people, the thing that could be referenced that people are going crazy about that they loved as it was And so, it would be great to have that available for a mainstream audience

– 'A New Hope's' not even in the Library of Congress because they would only accept the original theatrical cut I guess– – You have a lot of information, Charlie – Well, I'm a nerd, that's my job As a director yourself, though, have you ever wanted to go back and change something? – Oh my God, yes, of course But I also feel like, when at a certain point, you have to say, "This is what it is

" And for me, the idea of going back and making an incremental change or an adjustment to this or that, it just doesn't, it's not interesting to me But I respect the impulse of artists to continue to work on their stuff – At certain place, it's pencil's down, walk away, right? – Well, it's like, when you watch a little kid draw a picture and they're like, "I'm done", and they just know that they're done How do you know you're done? Maybe there's more, you could do more shading but they did know they're done And I think that at a certain point, that can be a very healthy thing

– When did you know you were done with 'The Rise of Skywalker?' – We've been working on this story for a couple of years And as the thing became more clear to us, not what we wanted to do as much as what we could tell was happening with the story, at a certain point, you can either say, "I'm just gonna continue to tinker forever," which I get, or you can say, "This is telling the story "This is working, this is making people feel things" But when you start to show the thing and people are confused, and they don't understand something, they don't think something's funny that you did, they think that something isn't emotional that you're hoping was, you keep working There is a moment we can go too far and tinkering to perfect something can actually weirdly get in the way of something that, while maybe imperfect, is moving or effective

So I feel like there's no perfect science to it but I think at certain point you know that scene, that sequence, that reel, that movie is done – Where do you see 'Star Wars' 10 years from now? Will it still be a theatrical experience in 10 years? – I think it is a human natural need to have true, not virtual communal experiences, that the idea of of of being in a room with other people coming together with this group of strangers, to mutually experience this thing, simultaneously have and to hear other people react and to have them hear you, there's something about that that I would hate to think would ever go away But it's increasingly hard to justify leaving your house, and everyone talks about, "Oh, parents with kids and the cost of parking," all that's real, like it's actually like So you think, well, we have to eventize these movies But the more you eventize them, the more they become sort of amusement park rides, the more they become things that are not necessarily always the deepest, always the most meaningful, always the most resonant

They become the more bombastic and pyrotechnics, spectacular thing And that's not to say those are bad because we all love a great and well-told spectacular movie But, I think, it's important that theaters are not just for 'Star Wars,' but for everything are creating reasons to go I mean, I don't know about you, but when you go to a small theater, not in a major city, it's often a pretty bad experience The screens aren't great, the picture's not fantastic, the sound's not good

A lot of times, the flat screen TV you have at home is a better viewing experience than you know Theaters need to give people a reason to go and and not just at the movies have to be great, but that the experience of being there needs to be special So I feel like there's a lot of conversation about sort of ways to do that And I think that that the need to be in a dark room with a lot of people won't go away But I love movies as much as anything

And it would be a horrible thing if those didn't exist, not just for starters – I mean, I know, you've probably told yourself this before, but you are done with 'Star Wars' now and you've just signed you in Bad Robot, just signed a deal with Warner What's next for JJ Abrams? What interests you? What is your next creative challenge? – I feel like there's a chapter coming, at least, for Bad Robot that I hope is as much about creating new worlds and stories and characters as anything

And I'm all for, wherever the idea and the inspiration comes from, I think that we all agree, maybe even especially moviegoers You just can't keep cannibalizing the stuff that preexist and part of the fun of creating something is creating something from scratch I know that, we're here talking about Star Wars, but 'Star Wars' wouldn't exist if Flash Gordon hadn't existed The fact that George Lucas said, "I'm inspired by that, I'm inspired by Kurosawa, "I'm inspired by Joseph Campbell" But here's my take on it

It's like that sort of thing which is how Hollywood has typically worked until somewhat recently I feel like that's not a huge shift from seeing something, say, let's remake that thing It's like, be inspired by it, and then let's come up with our own thing So I know what I've done and what I've worked on And I'm very much looking forward to working on things that are original idea

– What are you doing there, C3PO? – Taking one last look, sir, at my friends

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