This clip of J.J. Abrams talking about storytelling and Star Wars is excerpted from a 2007 talk at the annual TED Conference. In the clip (watch it below) Abrams talks about “the mystery box,” the key information that’s withheld in a story that makes the story intriguing and compelling. As he puts it: “The intentional withholding of information is much more engaging.” The talk was a big hit today on the social media site Reddit when someone dug it out and pointed to it as evidence Abrams will be a terrific director of the next Star Wars, which he was assigned last week.
In the larger presentation (you can view it on the jump), Abrams ranges widely on the nature of storytelling, with clips from his own show Lost as well as Jaws. He references his childhood Super 8 camera, a never-opened box of magic tricks from his beloved grandfather, the biggest mystery box of all, and one of the three rules of the universe: Don’t hurt Tom Cruise’s nose.