J.J. Abrams Talks ‘Star Wars’ Secrecy & Surprising Fans

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star wars episode 7 image J.J. Abrams Talks Star Wars Secrecy & Surprising Fans

There once was a time when studios actually wanted to get fans excited for major films, but those days are over. And there is no better example than Star Wars: Episode VII. The upcoming sequel set to kick off a new age of one of film’s most iconic franchises is just years away, and Disney is making sure that fans have no concrete information to get excited about.

That trend is spreading across Hollywood in regards to blockbuster franchises, but director J.J. Abrams explains that Star Wars brings a level of secrecy he’s never experienced, and has him wondering if the value of anticipation is being overlooked.

Since announced, rumors of possible casting, relationship to the announced spin-off films, and plot details have spread like wildfire in the absence of any official word. Speaking with the Telegraph, Abrams expresses he is all too aware of the public interest, and just what kind of pressures surround a project as beloved and valued as the one he’s currently steering:

“Are you kidding me? My god. My office… I’m working on the Star Wars script today and the people in my office have covered up all my windows with black paper. I guess they wanted to make sure no one could see what I was doing… It seems rather extreme.”

Having to hide from binocular-wielding fans is certainly taking extreme precautions, but in an age when online sentiment can either hype or hinder a film’s buzz, Hollywood executives are going to absurd lengths to keep scripts secret. The fact that Star Wars has undergone more than a few screenwriter changes, reportedly to bring back heroes Luke, Han and Leia instead of starting fresh, is sure to get fans hungrier than ever for concrete evidence.

star wars episoe 7 fisher ford hamill 570x294 J.J. Abrams Talks Star Wars Secrecy & Surprising Fans

Apparently the script for Episode VII is now complete, but that won’t mean sudden casting announcements, character details, or a plot synopsis. And even if Abrams himself confirmed that the film will involve the children of either Luke Skywalker or Han Solo, the secrecy surrounding Star Trek Into Darkness is impossible for sci-fi fans to forget.

Abrams has already explained why he came to regret the secrecy (or lack thereof) surrounding Into Darkness‘ iconic villain, claiming that he and the studio fed misinformation to keep fans surprised, and newcomers from being intimidated. But with his next Star project, he won’t be pulling the same trick twice:

“We were trying to preserve the unexpected for the audience, but it came across as if we were trying to be too clever… Star Wars is in every way a different animal. It’s always been a more open, fan-engaged universe than I’ve been used to, so I’m sure there’ll be some sort of compromise. But it feels to me like there’s a purity in not knowing every little thing.”

“We’re living in a moment of instant information and a sense of entitlement to that information… But I think it’s nice to remember that there’s nothing wrong with a sense of anticipation.”

jj abrams star wars J.J. Abrams Talks Star Wars Secrecy & Surprising Fans

There is certainly some wisdom in Abram’s words, and that fact becomes clearer every time fans overreact to a casting announcement, costume concept art, or set photos appear online. In the end, the movie is going to be released regardless, and everyone involved with jump-starting the Star Wars saga knows just what is at stake. If Abrams granted the fans’ loudest demands – explained the plot, central characters, specific cameos and future plan – would fans be more, or less excited?

Those details will likely be released eventually, so only then will we see how fans react. Speaking for yourself, do you feel entitled to details on such an iconic film series, or do you, like Abrams, think that there is something to be said for being surprised? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Star Wars: Episode VII hits theaters December 18, 2015.

Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: Telegraph

Follow Andrew Dyce on Twitter @andrew_dyce
TAGS: Star wars
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  1. Just please don’t put time travel in it.

    • You know, I’ve never ever thought about it until now, but what would time travel look like in the Star Wars universe? I’m pretty sure that’s something that no Star Wars story has ever dealt with. Not saying they should do it, but at the very least, it would be interesting to see…

      • No. Time travel doesn’t happen in Star Wars.

        • Yes, I am aware of that. I am merely wondering what it would look like if it did.

          • It would look terrible.

        • Actually time travel does SORT OF happen in some of the Extended Universe. It remains to be seen if that will stay canon or not.

    • Are you insane?

    • Within the ‘The Old republic’ and ‘Knights of The Old Republic’ series, Revan and a Sith Lord Emperor managed to prolong their lives for hundreds of years. Its kind of similar to time travel.

      • Yes, I know of Revan and the Sith Emperor, and no that is nothing like Time Travel. Extending your life through the force, or manipulation of it and traveling from one time to another instantly are not the same.

  2. I bet this movie will be awesome I like all the people they have working on it like many fans I am dying for confirmation news but at the same time I am really excited for surprises like Abrams said. I look forward to the unknown in movies and so far it looks like we’ll have that with episode 7.

  3. Personally, I would be more excited for this film if I knew what was going on. If I understood where they are going with plot, I’d be more excited for this film. At this point…I’m afraid and disappointed. I don’t like how Luke, Han, and Leia will the focal point of this trilogy. I believe they should be shifted into mentor roles (like how Obi-wan was a main character in the prequel trilogy but in the original trilogy he was the master/father figure/friend). It should be the next generation of Skywalkers, but I’m just a fan and its not like my opinion matters. I will also be disappointed if they create a movie universe that will disregard the work and effort of the many authors’ that contributed to the Star Wars Universe. I keep checking in, trying to find something that will renew my hope in this movie franchise, but I highly doubt I’ll find what I’m looking for.

    • I don’t believe there the focal point of the trilogy; only the 1st film, and there kids/younger actors(whoever they end up being) will have almost as much screen time as the original three leading to them being the main characters for 8 and 9.

    • I like not knowing because with me, if I know something is going to happen in advance, I become bored of the thing I’m trying to watch.

      I think you’re being overly negative though because the original actors need to be brought in to introduce their offspring to the audience and give new viewers a chance to see these iconic characters in a new movie.

      As a Star Wars fan myself, I honestly avoided the books and novels that came out over the years because for me, the only official canon I’ll ever be interested in is what Lucasfilm/Disney provide via TV or movies.

  4. Spoiler Alert (coming from the guy working at the Deli)

    Han Solo goes out in a blaze of glory in the first 15 mins of the movie

    • What? I thought Han shot first. ^_^

  5. Not to be a butt hole but does everything JJ does always have to have some mystery or surprise in it.Gee wiz dude, just make a good story.All good stories don’t revolve around some mystery or surprise.Just like he did with Star Trek 2.Is he Khan?Is he not Khan?Who is he?Come on JJ, the mysteries are tired.I’m sick of Christopher Nolan’s open ended interpret your own ending movies as well.Just end a movie without some freaking mystery already.Good grief.

    • Hey buddy, feel free to go see the next Kevin James movie if you want.

      • lol wow

      • And what is wrong with Kevin James movies? :)

      • What a cruel world it would be if the only alternative to JJ Abrams was Kevin James.

    • He said he regretted the secrecy from ST2 into darkness. It’s Disney trying to keep it under wraps

  6. I’d rather be surprised. Things like casting confirmations and minor tidbits are fine, but major story element reveals and seeing some of the best action scenes in the trailer is too much for me.

    I remember after seeing Fast & Furious 6, thinking that it would have been so much better if I hadn’t already seen all the best action scenes in the trailer. It was all spoiled for me already. Whereas with F&F5, I saw the film without seeing the trailer, and it was a much better experience. Having seen the trailer afterwards, I’m glad those things weren’t shown to be beforehand because the surprise (and wow factor) would have been gone.

    The Godzilla trailer did a decent job of not spoiling too much I think (even though I would have liked it to be like Cloverfield, where I didn’t see the monster at all until I saw the film).

  7. I was at Wizard Con in Portland yesterday and saw Q and A panels with Billy D Williams and Peter Mayhew, and neither of them have been contacted about Episode 7!! I understand Mayhew’s health is declining and he can’t walk as well anymore, but to not have him involved in some way is a crime, a Chewie stand in won’t work, they’ve tried already and no one can match his mannerisms.

    But what’s worse is no Lando Calrissean?!?!?! I seriously don’t want a Star Wars film without Lando if the rest of the cast is coming back. It sounded like he really wanted to be involved and was trying to be modest, but was a little hurt he hasn’t been asked. He said to take to Twitter and that there is a hashtag that JJ Abrams is very aware of: #BringBackLando, so we can flood twitter with this tag and help make JJ aware that it’s not Star Wars without Lando!

    • that is weird, how is that a character with more relavence to the story than boba fett is getting little no mention? I mean ran cloud city, was the original owner of the falcon, helped rescue han solo and took part in the fight against the 2nd death star. what did boba fett do besides look cool with his blaster, nothing expect get killed off like a looney tunes character, doesnt matter how many books they write about him, that one scene in the return of the jedi will be his defining moment.

    • Lando would be awesome, but I’ll tell you what a real crime would be, if Wedge doesn’t get to lead at one more attack run in the new trilogy. I mean there would be nothing more awesome than having Wedge and Rogue squadron swoop down with Jacen, or Anikan, or Ben, or whoever following behind.

      • Denis Lawson apparently turned down the opportunity to again portray Wedge Antilles because he’s “bored” by the idea of more Star Wars movies…

  8. I would rather the movie itself be a surprise. I would go see this tomorrow without any news, trailers, casting, or any info.

    Obviously I’ll follow it through production, but I hope they find a way to abate fans hunger while still keeping it close enough to the chest.

  9. I like to be surprised, and don’t need to know too much about a film beforehand.

    That being said, I’d much rather get some controlled, official confirmations of things than be subjected to an endless string on unsubstantiated rumors and hearsay.

    Additionally, I am suspicious of JJ Abrams’ use of secrecy as I feel that he sometimes attempts to use it to generate “extra” drama.

  10. Really glad the new trilogy will have the original cast memebers back…after all…they have to past the torch; and I too wouldn’t mind seeing Luke, Leia and Han die at the conclusion of this trilogy. As long as they go out blazing…it would be a fitting end for the characters.

  11. I feel that a movies plot needs to be kept secret. Yes I like to know who is has been cast for what roles and a bare bones idea of what the movie is going to be about. But this is Star Wars so we already know what it is about. I hope Abrams and Disney keeps as much a secret as possible till the day of release. I even think the trailers and commercials should be kept short and reveal as little as possible.

  12. If you don’t like the trailers or the plot info, then don’t read them. Don’t go on websites like Screenrant and read into spoiler section. Don’t watch more than the first trailer. JJ is right, we fans feel entitled to this information because quite frankly we are. We’re the ones paying 30 bucks for two tickets to see these movies in 3D. We are the ones who go tell all of our friends, buy the tshirts, make casual references on social media and in conversation, we are the ones that make these films what they are. The movie is nearly two years away, I’m not expecting anything right now, but I’d say by this fall we should have an idea of what the story will be about.

    • But why do you want to know in advance everything before you see it? What’s the point? You don’t feel you’re wasting your money if you already know what going to happen and will have already formed an opinion about it? What fun is that? It’s Star Wars for pete’s sake. What else do you need to know at this point? And it is still nearly 2 years away. Relax! (And the same goes for all of the other big movies we’re waiting on.) It’s ok to be excited to want to see them based solely on the the knowledge they’re being made.

      And for the record, I do limit myself as to how much I visit sites like SR and sometimes refuse to watch trailers. I, for one, want to be surprised as much as possible.

  13. I’d still prefer Alfonso Cuaron or Matthew Vaughn, or even Brad Bird to directed Star Wars: Episode VII any day than J.J. Abrams. But that’s my opinion.

  14. Yeah mystery sucks.
    Imagine how much better the first trilogy would have been if the opening credits said “Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father!”

    Who needs plot twists, or interesting revelations in movies. Tell me what is going to happen so I have time to process and prepare so I don’t look like I’ve gone full retard in the movie theatre trying to understand the plot.

    • Of course!

      Who needs to see the big action set pieces or surprises/plot twists in context? We need them all beforehand. I mean, it’s not like there’s a build up to these things in the movie so there’s a more dramatic pay-off. It’s not like we’re paying to see all those things in the context of the movie when it comes out. Oh, wait.

    • *Never go full retard!

  15. Hehe…I seem to recall a statement made by Kathleen Kennedy saying something to the effect of casting and plot details “not being as secret as everyone expects.”
    And in her head she was thinking, “It will be ten times MORE secret! MWAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!”

  16. I remember watching Empire in the cinema as a child and the big unveil at the end, “What! Vader is Luke’s father?” It blew my mind. A much simpler age, a more civilised age, where information wasn’t so readily available, I loved it. I would prefer that feeling again, I for one will be recapturing my youth if possible and try to avoid any spoilers.

  17. Look how great it was when it was revealed that Khan was the villain.

    Just taking the pi$$. Secrecy is fine if you have something worth waiting for. I did enjoy Trek Into Darkness but the Khan reveals as well as several parallels were fricken painful.

    I would hope for something a bit less silly in the story telling this time around.

  18. speaking of Star Wars the Mythbusters are doing a SW episode tonight

  19. “It’s always been a more open, fan-engaged universe than I’ve been used to”

    Wasn’t Star Trek even more so ?
    What is he talking about ?

  20. I would like to see a Kyle Kattarn movie with Karl urban……..Mic drop……

  21. The big reveal during Empire Strikes back blew our minds back then . Movie magic in its simplest form. That’s the same magic that Abrams is trying to achieve with the new Trilogy. And I commend him for even trying to do just that in this day and age.

  22. I love this approach. I’ve wondered more and more why the sense of adventure has gone from a lot of the movies I watch these days. I thought it was all because I was growing up, but it’s not just that – it’s because I read and learn too much about the movie before it’s out! I would gladly not know about the Green Goblin in Spider-man or not know much about the villain – where he comes from, what he wants, how the actor is approaching the role. In all honesty my last true “adventure” movie (that I went into completely blind) was Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Loved that movie and it defined my childhood. But I knew absolutely nothing about it beforehand, and that helped the mystery and to make it great.

    I want to be in the dark in this one too. I need to wean off of Screenrant. For the trailer, all they need is a few space travel scenes, a few new set scenes, maybe a pan over of a city or building. With a voiceover, preferably by old, aged Luke/Mark Hamill. To make them remember. Then a cloaked figure walking somewhere or emerging from the shadows, approaching something. And then – with just a shot of a boot and the cloak – show the lightsaber activate on, the red glow of the blade shooting into view. Cut to black, title, release date, done.

    • Bro did you right the trailer?

  23. So…when I read that jj Abrams was “speaking with the telegraph.” I kept thinking his quote would be more like this:

    “Are you kidding me?[stop] My god.[stop] My office… [stop]I’m working on the Star Wars script today and the people in my office have covered up all my windows with black paper.[stop] I guess they wanted to make sure no one could see what I was doing… It seems rather extreme.[stop]”

    Because that is what quotes read from telegraphs look like.

    • that’s pretty funny (stop)

  24. If we want to have Padme and Vader happily ever after.. there must be time travel in this saga.

  25. I don’t really mind about about the whole top secret spy stuff.
    That scene hurt my eye, JJ.

    • +1,000
      that scene wasn’t necessary. it wasn’t even eye candy.

      • Yeah, it did seem pretty exploitative to me.

        I was talking to a friend about it though, and he thought that it set the stage for their future relationship. It basically piqued his interest right there and made him take notice of her.

  26. I don’t know. As a 13 year old at the time, I sat in a crowded theater on the opening day of The Empire Strikes Back and was amazed with everyone else at the pronouncement of “No, Luke. I am your father!”

    Uhhh, what? Holy cow! Did he just say that Luke was his son? He’s lying!!!

    I dig that sort of secrecy. Here’s hoping JJ has something like that in store for us, again!

  27. I bet they will have a guy named ‘Joe’. As Joe fights to kill off the new Jedi order, JJ will reveal his actual name is Boba fett.

  28. I’ve thought for a LONG time that a great plot would be a trilogy based on the fall and redemption of Luke Skywalker to the Dark Side. I know there was a “voluntary fall” in the Dark Horse comics, where he turned just to destroy the cloned Emperor, but my idea is different:

    The first film begins with Luke living happily with a wife and child on an idyllic planet. As usual, evil is stirring in the background, and their lives are in danger. A hidden threat rises up to threaten the redeveloping New Republic, and to overthrow the “goody-two-shoes” Skywalkers and their friends. In particular, Luke and Leia are targeted. As the New Republic struggles to develop a foothold in the galaxy and rebuild the government, deep beneath the old surgical reconstruction facility on Coruscant, a clone chamber is discovered. Beneath the glass is a familiar face, with the label “SKYWALKER, A.” (Be aware, I am imagining Anakin being played by someone other than Christiansen, hopefully someone with more of a look to the Original Trilogy’s unmasked Vader. And, y’know, with acting ability.) Concurrent with this discovery, Luke and his family are hunted down by those seeking power, his wife and child killed, and he barely survives. First episode, fade to black.

    We open on a Republic in turmoil. The new government is under attack by shadowy forces, a long-lost potentially evil clone is discovered deep in Coruscant, and one of their “shining examples” (Luke) is a hero in the throes of depression and disturbingly moody behavior in the wake of his family’s destruction. Through investigation, they learn that the Emperor secretly had Anakin cloned during his repair, to protect against future losses. A long debate ensues – kill the clone, let it “expire,” revive the clone, or leave it alone. Many feel that killing it would be wrong, because even though it is a clone of the one who became Vader, they don’t know if his force aptitude would be the same, and cloning the body doesn’t necessarily copy the “spirit,” so there’s no way to know if he would be aligned with the Dark Side. Those that say “kill it” obviously feel that he was evil once, he would be evil again upon revival. Those on the fence feel there is too much risk either way, and that it should be left alone completely.

    Surprisingly, Luke is one arguing that the clone should be killed (a reflection of his much darker attitude now) and Leia wishes him revived, seeing it as a way to give the memory of her hated father a “second chance” to redeem himself. The Senate votes to leave the clone alone, seeing that any risk is too great to justify reviving the clone. Luke and Leia each have different ideas. Luke plots to secretly destroy the clone, while Leia seeks out Lando, who enlists the help of his underground network. In reviving a clone, “flash memory” is a process used to implant the memories of the original copy, so the clone essentially has the exact same memories, feelings, etc. Leia asks Lando to get a slicer friend to remotely hack into the memory unit on the clone chamber and modify the flash memory, so it not only includes Anakin’s life up to the point of being defeated by Obi-Wan, but also all of the memories which came after – his torment as Vader, the suffering he caused, and his rescue at the hands of his son, essentially creating a clone with the body of a young man, but with a full lifetime of experience and choices to remember.

    She is confident that the newly-revived clone will make the same choice her dying father made – to renounce the Dark Side, and turn to the Light. She can’t be sure, but is willing to take the risk. The republic needs all the help it can get, especially with her brother’s turn for the worse. Leia arrives deep beneath the city to discover Luke has also arrived. She surprises him, and the guilt on his face lets her know that he was there to destroy the clone. They argue their sides, both feeling frustrated with the other. Irrationally, Luke chastises Leia for betraying him like this, going against his wishes. This appears to be a final straw for Luke, as he snaps completely, attacking his sister. She fights valiantly, using her new Jedi powers, but Luke is far too experienced for her. During the battle, she manages to activate the “revival” sequence on the Clone Chamber. As Luke tries to fight past her to stop it, the clone chamber opens, and Anakin flops to the floor. They both watch, enrapt, despite themselves. Did he survive or not? The clone begins to twitch, waking. As his new muscles spasm with life, his Force abilities also seem to spasm, reflexively striking out around him. The entire chamber begins to shake and crumble.

    Luke seizes the opportunity, and with an “I-told-you-so” look, he force shoves her into the far wall, knocking her unconscious, and escaping. This episode ends with the chamber crumbling around Anakin and Leia.

    The final episode begins with Leia and her cloned father awakening trapped in the chamber beneath the city. Leia is afraid, not sure if her Father will be good or evil when he awakens. He wakes up, tears in his eyes, commenting on a horrible nightmare he just experienced. Leia explains that it wasn’t a nightmare, it was his life, and tells him the full story up to now.

    Meanwhile, above, a section of Coruscant is smashed due to the seismic activity the Force-spasms created. They blame Luke, saying he must have caused it by doing whatever he did to the clone, against the Senate’s wishes. He argues that it wasn’t him, it was his sister reviving the clone. No one believes him, which angers Luke more. He sets out on a mission of vengeance against those who started his life on its downward spiral.

    A fully force-sensitive Anakin, seemingly on the path of right, helps Leia escape using extraordinary powers. The power collective trying to overthrow the Republic learns of Anakin’s cloning and tries to recruit him, but he refuses, swearing he “has had enough of politics.” Luke finds the collective and tries to destroy them, but not before a cloned Anakin shows up – even thought he power collective was wrong in their methods, they don’t deserve death, and Revenge is not the Jedi way.

    A long fight between Luke and Anakin ensues, Luke seems to have the upper hand, but Anakin bests him more psychologically than physically. Luke is brought back to the light. So, the saga comes full circle this way – the son who redeemed the evil father, turns to the Dark Side and is brought back by the younger clone of his father.

    It’s a rough outline, but the basic idea is there.

    • @James:

      Good effort and it would be an interesting story but the 3rd trilogy needs to focus on the next generation of Skywalkers. Just like the first trilogy was Anakin, the second was Luke, the 3rd has to be Leia and Han’s twins (or Luke’s son) for a few reasons:

      1. Luke, Leia and Han (or their actors) can’t carry this trilogy for 3 movies. They have to be cameos or small parts just for the first episode.

      2. Marketing-wise you have to create new main characters for toys, licensing etc etc.

      3. We can’t keep rehashing the middle trilogy’s characters.

      I forget, what was Lucas’ idea for the 3rd trilogy? Is JJ following that? I’m assuming if we are doing typical JJ, the main “Jedi” will be a female.

  29. My name is Christopher Jordan and I enjoy the Star Wars franchise. I was sitting in my room and thought, always two are they, a good and bad movie. If you really want millions and billions of dollars pick that guy that plays Bruce Willis son in the 2013 Die Hard movie, to play StarKiller Dark Vaders Secret Apprentice. He,s the most best actor suited fir the job! P.S I,ll take a challenger on 24s.