Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Director J.J. Abrams Admits Production Was a “Bit of a Trot”

Writer-director J.J. Abrams admits production on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was a "bit of a trot" because he had "three fewer months" to make Skywalker than new trilogy starter The Force Awakens. In August 2015 — months before Episode VII reached theaters as the first Star Wars film produced by Lucasfilm parent company Disney — Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow was set to close out the trilogy with Episode IX following the Rian Johnson-directed Episode VIII. Trevorrow was dismissed by Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy in early September 2017 and Episode IX's release date, once set for May 2019, was shifted to December when Abrams replaced Trevorrow:

“When Larry Kasdan and I were writing The Force Awakens, we had many discussions about what we thought might happen down the line, but we were just scrambling to get that film on its feet,” Abrams told BBC Radio’s Simon Mayo. “And then Rian Johnson came in and did Last Jedi — I’m a big fan of his — and he did his film and we, obviously, over the years [had discussions]. I was not supposed to do Episode IX at that point, so I was just the audience. And I was watching it and loving it. And then Kathy Kennedy called and said, ‘Will you come back and do Episode IX?’”

When Abrams accepted the job, he and Lucasfilm “just continued the same conversations that Larry and I had.”

“A lot of what we ended up doing were things that we had been discussing, a lot of things we had not discussed, and we assimilated and sort of synthesized what Rian had done,” Abrams explained. “So it was a combination of an ongoing conversation, things that we had been thinking about for years. And also, suddenly it wasn’t far away, it was now. And we had three fewer months to make this film than Force Awakens, so from the beginning of it, it was a bit of a trot.”

In an earlier interview, Abrams explained why he declined to return for the middle chapter of the sequel trilogy:

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“We had talked about doing Episode VIII, but the truth was I was beginning to direct Episode VII, and there was quite a bit to think about, and I didn’t have the brainpower or the approval of my family to commit to being away for [that long],” Abrams said on Popcorn with Peter Travers. “It was just one of those things, all around, where it was not the right thing to say at the beginning of Episode VII, ‘Let’s talk about VIII.’ When I was a kid growing up, whenever we’d be in a meal, it would be lunch, and my mom would always say, ‘For dinner, what do you want?’ We’d be like, ‘Mom, we just started lunch! Dinner?’ She was always talking about the next thing. So it felt like that.”

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is now in theaters. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.

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