Star Trek/Star Trek Into Darkness director J.J. Abrams co-wrote and helmed the hotly-anticipated Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, but he is far from the only major name that was involved in crafting the new chapter in the iconic space opera saga created by George Lucas. The Force Awakens was co-penned by Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi), while Abrams has noted that costar Harrison Ford and Simon Pegg - who also has a small role in the film - were helpful sounding boards during the project's script development process.
Meanwhile, the legendary John Williams returned to provide the score for The Force Awakens - having composed the music for all six previous Star Wars live-action movies - and as it turns out, the film will also feature music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, as was revealed by none other than Abrams himself (see the video above).
Lin-Manuel Miranda, for those unfamiliar, is the musician/actor and Tony award-winning Broadway star who wrote the award-winning stage musicals In the Heights and Hamilton - the latter of which became a massive critical/commercial success earlier this year - and is also providing some of the music/songs for Disney Animation's upcoming film release, Moana. Abrams, when he appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, revealed how Miranda ended up working on the director's Star Wars movie:
"I went to see Hamilton, and Lin-Manuel Miranda came up to me, and said, 'If you need music for the cantina, let me know!' I was like, 'does he know'?! Because basically we have a scene that's sort of our version of the cantina scene. John Williams had said he'd rather not write the music for that scene. So I emailed Lin, and he said, 'I'll drop everything!' We sent music files back and forth... the whole thing was nuts. So now in the movie is this music that Lin-Manuel Miranda and I wrote."
Miranda later confirmed the Force Awakens news via his official Twitter account:
We did. Worked on it between 6pm & 7:30 on 2 show days for the past 2 months. JJ is the best. Can't wait to see. https://t.co/pPYu8nRsxI
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) December 1, 2015
The news of Miranda's involvement with Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes as unexpected but all the same quite welcome news, especially for those familiar with his Broadway musical work. Miranda is certainly someone capable of crafting some catchy new tunes that will be enjoyed by those in a galaxy far, far away (and those in a galaxy that's not so far away, too), and his contributions ought to help to make the aforementioned sequence yet another memorable moment in the run of Star Wars on the big screen.
That being said, those who are concerned that The Force Awakens will go too far in paying homage to Star Wars movies past (to the point where it just becomes a knock-off) - be it with regard to the film's narrative and/or the elemental nature of the various planetary settings - may find Abrams' mention of "our version of the cantina scene" (a reference to the Mos Eisley cantina scene from Lucas' original Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope) to be reason for concern, in that respect.
On the other hand, Abrams has admitted to having gone overboard with nods to franchise installments past with his Star Trek films, so it stands to reason that he's applied what he learned from that mistake to his approach with Star Wars. Moreover, as evidenced by the involvement of names like Miranda, The Force Awakens is the result of input from seasoned industry veterans and younger talents alike on both sides of the camera, improving its odds of being able to tow the line between innovation and respecting the series' legacy.
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens is directed by J.J. Abrams and stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Max Von Sydow. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing with Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The screenplay is by Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, and Michael Arndt.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.