On a recent visit to The Howard Stern Show, Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams recalled his experience of screening the first cut of the movie, which had no visual effects, for Disney execs Bob Iger, Alan Horn and Alan Bergman.
“We screened the movie, and it was horrifying,” Abrams admitted. “I’m nervous beyond words, I’m showing this movie that I know is so far from finished, there’s not an effect in it…”
Abrams said he was even trying to temper their expectations before they saw the film: “It was a lot of me giving excuses before the screening,” he said. “I’m reading their body language while they’re watching it … I couldn’t tell if they were miserable or in ecstasy.”
Apparently, he needn’t have worried, because hearing their positive reaction after the screening was “the biggest relief of my life. And then of course I laughed and all I could think was ‘what do they know? They spent four billion dollars, they have to love it!‘” Abrams chuckled. “I’m so critical about it, and their response was so kind. I’m like, ‘they’re just being nice.‘”
Abrams also shared what led him to direct the film, after initially turning it down because he was tired of directing sequels and, as a Star Wars fan, just wanted to go to the theater and watch it like everyone else. After being invited to sit down with producer Kathleen Kennedy, Abrams said the story just started to flow.
“We just started talking about what the story could be and as we were talking about it I found myself suddenly on fire about what this movie could be,” Abrams said.
The idea that Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia would be myths to people was what excited Abrams, especially if the story was told from the perspective of “a new, young female character,” who ended up becoming Daisy Ridley’s Rey.
“That question of this young woman asking ‘who is Luke Skywalker?’ I don’t know why, but it made me feel like ‘f—, that’s so cool,'” Abrams admitted. “These would be essentially kids who didn’t see Star Wars themselves, in this movie, who would be in this universe,” Abrams continued. “The idea of discovering or re-discovering this world that had been created.”
The Force Awakens director also spoke, for assuredly the umpteenth time, Luke’s absence from the trailers.
“I hate when I go and see a trailer and I feel like I’ve just seen the whole movie in an encapsulated form, it makes me nuts,” Abrams said. “I’d rather be asking questions and feel that they’d been answered for me [by the film].”
He also touched on the controversy that emerged following the casting of John Boyega as Finn, a Stormtrooper who happens to be black.
“All I know is that John Boyega is extraordinary in the movie,” he said. “I think the people who are complaining probably have a lot bigger problems than [that] there’s a black Stormtrooper.”
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens on Dec. 18.
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