J.J. Abrams, the 49-year-old director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, moved from sci-fi into the very real world of presidential politics Monday when he announced his support for Hillary Clinton, the current frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, in an interview with the Daily Beast.
Abrams was already one of Hollywood’s most successful directors and moguls, producing such hit television series as Alias and Lost, as well as the first two blockbuster films in the revived Star Trek series, which he also helmed as director, before he directed the latest entry in the Star Wars saga.
Released on December 18, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has already taken in nearly $900 million at the United States box office alone, and almost $2 billion worldwide, making the seventh Star Wars film the highest-grossing domestic release of all-time and the third highest worldwide.
Even adjusting for inflation, Star Wars: The Force Awakens would be the 11th-highest domestic moneymaker in Hollywood history, according to the box-office monitoring site Box Office Mojo.
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As a result, Abrams has amassed a net worth estimated variously between $95 million and $120 million, a total that is certain to go up considerably once Abrams cashes in on the reported 2 percent of the film’s box office gross that he reportedly will receive under his contract.
In other words, with the newest Star Wars film destined to top $2 billion in gross earnings worldwide, Abrams could, in theory, pad his bank account by another $80 million before taxes and other fees come out.
Abrams has decided to use some of that wealth to back the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. Along with his wife Katie McGrath, he donated $1 million to the Clinton-backing super PAC Priorities USA last year and now has come out in public to throw his support behind the former Secretary of State and New York senator.
“We are supporting Hillary,” Abrams said in the interview with Daily Beast writer Marlow Stern. “We believe in her as the strongest candidate. She does have the experience and the politics. She is compassionate, and right. When I look at the people who need the support that aren’t necessarily getting it, I believe that she would provide that.”
Abrams emphasized Hillary Clinton’s “compassion” as his reason for publicly endorsing her.
“When I look at the people who need the support that aren’t necessarily getting it, I believe that she would provide that,” the Star Wars director said. “That is really the way that we have to approach how we vote: look around and ask yourself, who needs to be brought up? Who needs to be emphasized? Who needs compassion? And I find that that’s something that she’s got.”
Clinton addresses issues surrounding her candidacy in the following CNN interview video.
Whether the large bloc of Star Wars fans who shelled out that $900 million to see the film in the United States will be mobilized to support Clinton as a result of Abrams endorsement is another question.
Prior to the film’s release, some fans objected to the casting of John Boyega, a British actor of Nigerian descent, as renegade stormtrooper “Finn,” because according to that segment of the fandom, Star Wars stormtroopers should be white.
Abrams, on the other hand, has been a vocal advocate of ethnically and racially diverse casting in Hollywood productions, putting him at odds with at least some percentage of the Star Wars fan base.
“I think it’s important people see themselves represented in film,” Abrams said during a panel discussion at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Com. “I think it’s not a small thing.”
In addition to his support of Hillary Clinton, Abrams has been involved in Democratic politics in the past. Last October, Abrams and McGrath hosted U.S. President Barack Obama at their $14.5 million Pacific Palisades, California, home, where Obama took part in what was described as “roundtable discussion,” with guests forking over in excess of $33,000 each for the privilege of attending. The funds went to Democratic senatorial candidates.
Whether Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams will throw a similar fundraising soiree for Hillary Clinton is something that he did not yet reveal.
[Photos By Rachel Murray/Win McNamee/Getty Images]