Getting the chance to direct a Star Wars movie could be considered a once in a lifetime experience, but for J.J. Abrams, he can call it a twice in a lifetime experience. The filmmaker, who helmed The Force Awakens, is returning to direct Episode IX, which he called "surreal."
"I was terrified and luckily I was surrounded by incredible people and we had a lot of fun [on The Force Awakens], and being back for Episode IX is as surreal as it gets and really exciting," Abrams shared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
The filmmaker's previous installment in the saga was met with relatively strong praise, which is a difficult task given the passionate fanbase. Despite that pressure, Abrams couldn't turn down the opportunity.
"As scary as it is, to put yourself in that firing squad, the opportunity is always bigger than the fear," Abrams pointed out.
Making Abrams' task even tougher is the negative response from some fans to The Last Jedi, with some viewers taking it upon themselves to create edits of the film that removes women and starting petitions to have the film stricken from official canon. Despite those negative responses, Abrams doesn't plan to bend to their demands.
"Not in the least," Abrams told IndieWire if he was adjusting his film to fans' expectations. "There's a lot that I would like to say about it, but I feel like it's a little early to be having the Episode IX conversation … I will say that the story of Rey and Poe and Finn and Kylo Ren — and if you look, there are three men and one woman, to those that are complaining that there are too many women in Star Wars — their story continues in a way that I couldn't be more excited about and cannot wait for people to see."
Luckily, Abrams has big plans in store for the direction of the final chapter of this trilogy.
"I had no intention to return," Abrams explained to Rolling Stone. "But when the opportunity presented itself to finish a story that we had begun with these new characters, to tell the last chapter of their story, it felt like there was a chance to do it in a way where we could go beyond, and do better than we did in [Episode VII]."
When Lucasfilm announced that Colin Trevorrow was no longer attached to Episode IX, a variety of names were thrown out by fans regarding who could take on the responsibility. Many of these names included former filmmakers in the franchise, with Abrams' experience on The Force Awakens seemingly being a big factor in his decision to accept the duty.
"I learned so much in that movie and I saw that this was a chance to sort of realize something that we hadn't quite achieved – and part of that was it was simply the beginning of these new characters and their story," Abrams explained. "The opportunity to sort of take what we had learned, to take the feeling of who these characters are and what they are and give them a final chapter that felt in the spirit of what we begun? It was too delicious of an opportunity to pass up."
Episode IX will land in theaters on December 20, 2019.
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