Interview With ‘Star Wars’ Director JJ Abrams: Filmmaker Talks Score Production, George Lucas, The Force, And More

It’s just a few days away from the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and JJ Abrams couldn’t be more excited. He sat down for an interview with to express his excitement and views on the upcoming film, which is set to hit theaters on December 18.

This Star Wars film is set 30 years after the close of the events in Return of the Jedi when Luke, Leia, and Han Solo defeated the Empire. Of course, in a world with as much darkness and light as Star Wars, there’s no way that film could have been the close of the entire Star Wars realm, and a new generation of heroes, princesses, and villains was born.

Abrams has spent a considerable amount of time preparing for the newest production, even before filming started. He spent hours in conversation with Lawrence Kasdan, the writer of The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Kasdan was also the co-writer of The Force Awakens. According to Abrams, Kasdan is probably the closest person to the Star Wars realm that’s involved with this production.

The interview opened by discussing how George Lucas has finally seen the latest production. Abrams said that he wasn’t nervous to show it to Lucas because he wasn’t there when Lucas saw it.

“I didn’t realize how relieved I was until after George had seen it,” he laughed.

Abrams also talked about working closely with John Williams, who wrote the score for the film. Williams was the original composer of the first six films, and he worked with Abrams to create a score that reflected the original music but brought new life to the film that’s set 30 years ahead of the previous works.

However, Williams came to Abrams at one point and stated that he wasn’t interested in writing the music for a particular scene. From that point, Abrams decided he’d write the music for that scene himself. However, he became very busy, and after writing just a template for the music, he got wrapped up in other things.

As fortune would have it, Abrams found his solution to the dilemma in the form of Lin-Manuel Miranda, a composer, lyricist, and Broadway actor.

He approached Abrams during the intermission of the musical Hamilton, in which Miranda was performing, and said, “If you want me to write the music for the Cantina scene, let me know.”

Abrams stated that he was blown away by this comment, saying, “It was so strange that he would say that, because it was exactly the thing I needed.”

As a result of this exchange, Abrams and Manual co-wrote the music for one scene in the show.

The discussion eventually moved to talking about how science fiction, fantasy, and even supernatural elements was huge for the original films. They were some of the first films to successfully boast an otherworldy feel. When asked if Abrams felt the need to incorporate that in the newer films, he responded.

“I know that some people perceive Star Wars as a science fiction story, but I always felt like it was more of a fairy tale or a kind of fantasy. The fantasy element is what allowed something like the force or the force ghosts, the idea of a spiritual world that connects us all to exist so comfortably actually feels, in a weird way, almost counter science fiction. So it wasn’t something to go back to, it was something we were lucky enough to inherit.”

No Star Wars interview is complete without some discussion about the Force. Abrams talked about how he often went on walks with Lawrence Kasdan, in which they discussed important things like the Force.

“The idea of the force being something seductive, the idea that it’s easier to go on the dark side and that it’s a pull and the idea of greed and how power can seduce you – but the Force is at the heart of Star Wars. It’s the thing that’s most profound… The idea that the Force was real, that the Jedi were real was an incredible thing to watch.”

The film is set to be the first of many sequels to the iconic saga. It’s already been confirmed that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is already set for production. It will be a standalone film run by Disney. It’s also been confirmed that there will be a Han Solo anthology for 2018, but no concrete details have been released on that one as of yet.

[Image via Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images]