J.J. Abrams Interview in Vanity Fair

daisy btsAs part of the June cover story, Vanity Fair sat down with director J.J. Abrams to talk about his work on The Force Awakens. Topics of conversation include how he and the rest of the creative team went about setting the tone and referencing the other films, and what it was like working on Star Wars as a lifelong fan.

On the podcast we’ve speculated a lot about the state of the GFFA 30 years after Endor, and Abrams discusses the appeal of dropping in the audience into the middle of the action with little explanation.

What was incredible about Star Wars, among other things, was that in that first movie Vader could’ve been his father, but he wasn’t, you know. Leia could’ve been his sister, but she wasn’t. You didn’t really know what the Empire was up to exactly. You didn’t really understand what it meant that there was a Senate or the Dark Times or any of the references, and yet you felt the presence of all these things and you understood because it was all being referenced in a way that allowed you to fill in the blanks, and that’s a very powerful thing.

I’m not sure about anyone else, but lately I feel very comforted reading and listening to interviews with Abrams. There’s no doubt he understands the importance of Star Wars, and knows that getting the feel right is just as important as the story itself. Combine that with the amazing new teaser and set pictures, and I absolutely cannot wait until December 18.

Episode VII News Update

So, our Intrepid Leaders are on their honeymoon, which means the B-team is subbing in this week (we’re sorry).   Here’s what we’ve got:

J.J. posted another video for UNICEF’s Force for Change, and this time, he’s showing off an X-wing in the video.  Take a look at Mashable.com.  Personally, I’m thrilled at yet another look at practical effect props showing up here, and I’m looking forward to a comparison of this X-wing to those from the original trilogy.

Meanwhile, Badass Digest claims to have plot details for Episode VII.  I don’t think I need to note how very, very, very unconfirmed that is, but if you’re wanting to stay unspoiled, you might want to avoid, just in case.  (TOTALLY UNCONFIRMED, BY THE WAY.  And some of it doesn’t make ANY sense.  Like, at all.)

That’s the news for this morning.  Naturally, since The Intrepid Leaders are on a boat, Bria and I are expecting some sort of exciting news to drop at some point this week.  (You might remember that Brian and Nanci were on a cruise when Episode VII was announced.)  We will be exacting revenge for this later.

J.J. Abrams says hello from Abu Dabi and you can win a chance to appear in Episode VII

First off, it’s official: Episode VII is filming in Abu Dabi. See for yourself in the video above. Second, you can win a chance to appear in Episode VII by supporting UNICEF through the new Force for Change program.

Star Wars: Force for Change is a brand new charitable initiative from Disney and Lucasfilm in collaboration with Bad Robot dedicated to finding creative solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems. The first Star Wars: Force for Change campaign will raise funds and awareness for UNICEF’s Innovation Labs and its innovative projects benefiting children in need.

For your chance to appear in Episode VII and visit the London studios, click the link above and enter the contest.

Episode VII Roundup: J.J. Abrams says things and stuff

JJ AbramsLet’s start out with the actual news-y things, because there hasn’t been enough of that pertaining to Episode VII of late. According to USA Today, J.J. Abrams has confirmed that the script is finished and that filming is slated to begin in May. But what’s the script about? Well…

“We can’t talk about story yet,” said the director, who plans to travel to England soon to begin work on the seventh film in the long-running saga. As far as casting, he had no details but said they will come “soon, and I look forward to that so that we can get past it and we can get on with it.”

No surprise they can’t talk about it yet. At least we’re starting to get some rumblings that casting will be coming soon. We’d like to get past it as well, J.J.

Meanwhile in a separate report from The Wrap, Abrams says that there have indeed been talks with Jesse Plemons, despite the latter denying there was anything there.

Over in the rumor mill side of things, the popular weekend rumbling was that Lucasfilm has approached Judi Dench to play Mon Mothma. Again, this one is a rumor. For my take, if you can get Judi Dench, go for it, but it would be cool to see her play something other than the obvious aged up Mon Mothma. How about a female Jedi Master with more than two lines of actual dialog?

And finally, Carrie Fisher told TV Guide that she, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford will be starting work on Episode VII in March or April.

Abrams and Kasdan assuming Episode VII screenwriting role. Arndt out?

Well this is certainly something. Maybe this is cause for alarm, maybe it isn’t. We don’t know much more beyond this little bit of information:

This was confirmed a few minutes later on the official site.

As Episode VII continues pre-production, Lawrence Kasdan and director J.J. Abrams have assumed screenwriting duties for the film. Kasdan, who has been serving as a consultant on the film, is a veteran of several classic Lucasfilm productions, writing the screenplay for Raiders of the Lost Ark and serving as co-screenwriter for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Acclaimed director and screenwriter Abrams’ credits include Super 8Mission: Impossible IIIFringe, and Lost.

“I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script,” states Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. “There are very few people who fundamentally understand the way a Star Wars story works like Larry, and it is nothing short of incredible to have him even more deeply involved in its return to the big screen. J.J. of course is an incredible storyteller in his own right. Michael Arndt has done a terrific job bringing us to this point and we have an amazing filmmaking and design team in place already prepping for production.”

What exactly this means is a mystery right now. Does this mean that Abrams and Kasdan have Michael Arndt’s screenplay in hand and are in the polishing stage, or does it mean that Arndt is out?

So we know a little more than we did before about Episode VII, but as often happens with these things we’ve now got even more questions and concerns.

Report: Abrams setting up Episode VII post-production facilities in L.A.

JJ AbramsAccording to the Hollywood Reporter, J.J. Abrams is setting up an Episode VII post-production shop at the Bad Robot facility in Santa Monica. Among the additions:

A green room, sound studios and other new facilities will be developed within the three-story, 18,000-square-foot Santa Monica building, which already includes editing bays, a workshop for making props, a screening room that can double as a set and Abrams’ personal suite of offices. Star Wars: Episode VII is set to be released in 2015 by Disney.

No comment from either Bad Robot or Disney at this point, but it would make sense and would probably helpful for Abrams, who did joke that shooting in England would be a little difficult for his family.

Rumor: J.J. Abrams leaving Episode VII?

Update: Lucasfilm responds, says “Yeah, no.” Original post below:

I guess it’s been too long since there was a bombshell of an Episode VII rumor, so here we go. Badass Digest suggests that J.J. Abrams wants out of the film.

Why is it that I keep hearing tons of rumors that JJ Abrams is on the verge of dropping out of Star Wars? This has been something I’ve heard for a while now, and from multiple insiders. I know that he didn’t want to shoot the movie in England and was overruled, but that happened a while ago. This weekend at Comic Con I continued to hear these whispers. No director for Trek 3 has been found yet – might Abrams end up coming back after all, leaving Star Wars to someone else?

Bryan Young over at Big Shiny Robot talked about why this doesn’t make much sense and I’m right there with him. I’m going with fan paranoia on this one and I just won’t put stock into this particular rumor until after Celebration Europe at the earliest.

Lucas and Abrams haven’t talked Episode VII yet

LucasWhile at the Daytime Emmy Awards, Access Hollywood caught up to George Lucas to, of course, talk about the upcoming new Star Wars film installments. Lucas, unfortunately, didn’t have much to say.

I have not spoken to J.J. He’s been busy with Star Trek, and I’m sure that he’ll let me know when he’s got some questions. So, you know, that’s all going well. Kathy tells me it’s working out great.

Understandable. Abrams is still doing his post-Trek release stuff and there’s no word on where Michael Arndt is with the screenplay yet. Don’t worry, Star Wars fans. More information will come. Eventually.