Star Wars: Episode IX director J.J. Abrams revealed he almost turned down the opportunity to helm the film. Abrams, of course, kicked off the franchise's sequel trilogy in 2015 with The Force Awakens and wasn't initially pegged to return for another installment. Originally, Jurassic World's Colin Trevorrow was selected to helm Episode IX, but he departed the project in 2017 due to creative differences with Lucasfilm. Not long after that, Abrams was hired to direct, co-writing a new script with Chris Terrio.
Abrams famously needed a bit of convincing to make The Force Awakens, so while it made sense for Lucasfilm to bring him back, it was still surprising to see him hop back aboard the Millennium Falcon. Taking on a Star Wars movie is no easy task and certainly not a choice Abrams made lightly. As a matter of fact, he really wrestled with his decision when Kathleen Kennedy offered him the Episode IX job, and nearly said no.
In an interview with Fast Company, Abrams recalled joining Episode IX. After feeling like he "dodged a bullet" following his experience on The Force Awakens, part of Abrams was content to sit the finale out and just enjoy it as a fan. But when his wife Katie McGrath convinced Abrams to think about it some more, he changed his mind:
I wasn’t supposed to be there. I wasn’t the guy, ya’ know? I was working on some other things, and I had something else that I was assuming would be the next project, if we’d be so lucky. And then Kathy Kennedy called and said, “Would you really, seriously, consider coming aboard?” And once that started, it all happened pretty quickly. The whole thing was a crazy leap of faith. And there was an actual moment when I nearly said, “No, I’m not going to do this.”
Abrams' early hesitation to tackle Episode IX is understandable. The pressures of directing a Star Wars movie are almost unparalleled in the film industry - particularly this one. Not only is Abrams looking to satisfyingly conclude the trilogy he began four years ago, he needs to close out the Skywalker saga in general before Lucasfilm moves to fresh horizons. Even for someone with Abrams' résumé and talent, that's a tall order. But the chance to head back to the galaxy far, far away proved to be too good to pass up. Abrams felt the team was capable of making a movie even greater than The Force Awakens, which at the time of its release was the best-reviewed Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back and was named one of the American Film Institute's 10 best movies of the year. Hopefully his time away from the director's chair reenergized his creative batteries and he delivered something special.
It would be interesting to know who else Lucasfilm had in mind if Abrams stuck to his first reaction and passed. Kennedy was under the gun following Trevorrow's departure, as she needed to keep the project on track for a 2019 debut. Abrams not only has a history with Lucasfilm, he was an executive producer on The Last Jedi, meaning he was intricately involved with the trilogy from the get-go. Thankfully for Kennedy, she avoided having to conduct an extensive search for other candidates, and fans will soon get to see what Abrams has up his sleeve for Episode IX.
Source: Fast Company
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019