J.J. Abrams is no stranger to controversy. The 46-year-old director, who has given the world game-changing (and star-making) television shows like "Lost," "Alias," and "Felicity," sent shock waves through the industry last year when it was announced he'd be taking on his second major movie franchise: "Star Wars." (His first stab was at the highly successful "Star Trek.")
"With 'Star Wars,' one has to take into account what has preceded it, what worked, what didn't," he tells Playboy magazine. "There are cautionary tales for anything you take on that has a legacy. ... When I get involved with something, I own it and carry the responsibility of the job."
And if fans don't like his take, it won't be the first time. Abrams's wildly successful sci-fi show "Lost" was met with a lot of backlash when it ended ambiguously after six seasons -- so much so that two years after it ended, "Lost" executive producer Damon Lindelof has spoken many times about the finale, saying he's lost sleep over fans' negative reactions but ultimately is proud of the controversial "everyone's dead" reveal. "It's the story I wanted to tell," he said in 2012. "I make no apologies for it."
Abrams also stands by the show's finale -- which was called "a cop-out" by the New York Times and "two-and-a-half hours of slow-motion bullshittery" by Gawker, though Entertainment Weekly dubbed it "pretty delightful."
"I loved the ending," he says. "I thought it definitely provided an emotional conclusion to that show. There may have been specific technical things people felt they wanted to understand, like what the island was exactly or why it was. But it's like the briefcase in 'Pulp Fiction.' If you show me what's in there, I promise you it will disappoint me."
Growing up in a show biz family (his parents, Gerald and Carol Abrams, were both producers), Abrams got a taste of Hollywood at a young age hanging around the Paramount lot.
"I'll never forget seeing Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, Tom Bosley, and the whole cast of 'Happy Days' with their scripts and Garry Marshall on the floor, rehearsing an episode. I felt a desperate, deep hunger to be on the floor with them."
But it wasn't all glamorized idolatry. "Seeing Robin Williams being completely off-color freaked me out," he said of the comedian's alien character on "Mork & Mindy." "It's funny when you're an adult, but it's creepy and weird when you're 12 and he's dressed like Mork."
Read Abrams's thoughts on Tom Cruise and what to expect from the upcoming "Star Trek Into Darkness" in Playboy's May issue.