Star Wars: JJ Abrams Discusses How He Nearly Passed on Directing 'Episode IX'

In 2009, filmmaker JJ Abrams managed to revive the Star Trek movie franchise from the dead, delivering audiences an exciting adventure that inspired two sequels. Lucasfilm tapped Abrams to pull off a similar feat with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which ended up appeasing not only devout fans of the original trilogy, but also made new fans thanks to his fresh perspectives. Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow was originally attached to helm Star Wars: Episode IX, though he ultimately parted ways from the project. Abrams recently shared that, despite his excitement over joining the galaxy far, far away, he almost turned down the chance to direct the conclusion of the Skywalker Saga.

"I wasn’t supposed to be there. I wasn’t the guy, ya’ know? I was working on some other things, and I had something else that I was assuming would be the next project, if we’d be so lucky," Abrams shared with Fast Company. "And then [Lucasfilm president] Kathy Kennedy called and said, 'Would you really, seriously, consider coming aboard?' And once that started, it all happened pretty quickly. The whole thing was a crazy leap of faith. And there was an actual moment when I nearly said, 'No, I’m not going to do this.' I was trepidatious to begin with, getting involved, because I love Star Wars so much and felt like it was ... It was almost, on a personal level, a dangerous thing to get too close to something that you care that much about."

Given how much Star Wars meant to him, it was his successes on Force Awakens that made him wary to return to that universe, nervous that another entry wouldn't be as effective.

"With Force Awakens, I feel like we managed to introduce these new characters—for some people, new actors—and continue a story in a way that I thought had heart and humanity and humor and surprise," the filmmaker detailed. "Though, of course, I’m aware that there are critics of that movie, it felt to me like we dodged a bullet. Like we got in there, we got to do something. And I left loving Star Wars as much as I did when I got there. Like, somehow, it was on a personal, selfish level something I was really happy to have done. Not just excited about doing but happy to have done. And to ask to have that happen again, I felt a little bit like I was playing with fire. Like, why go back? We managed to make it work. What the hell am I thinking?"

Despite being most apprehensive about the emotional toll embarking on a new film would potentially take on him, Abrams revealed it was his wife that helped him realize the unique opportunity he was presented with.

"And there was a moment when I literally said, 'No,' and Katie said, 'You should do this.' And my first thought was, has she met someone?" Abrams joked. "And then I thought, she’s usually right about stuff. And when she said it, I think that she felt like it was an opportunity to bring to a close this story that we had begun and had continued, of course. And I could see that even though the last thing on my mind was going away and jumping back into that, especially with the time constraints that we were faced with."

Fans have yet to see an official glimpse of the film, or even learn its title, though this week's Star Wars Celebration will likely see the reveal of many details about the adventure. Star Wars: Episode IX hits theaters on December 20th.

What do you think of Abrams' remarks? Let us know in the comments below or hit up @TheWolfman on Twitter to talk all things Star Wars and horror!

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