The Radio Times logo

JJ Abrams almost turned down directing Star Wars IX

The director opened up about the “enormous challenge” helming the space saga's conclusion

Published: Wednesday, 10th April 2019 at 12:03 pm

After Jurassic World’s Colin Trevorrow left Star Wars Episode IX due to “creative differences”, fans let out a sigh of relief when JJ Abrams confirmed he would be returning to finish the trilogy he started.


However, turns out he almost turned the job down.

Despite being a lifelong fan of the Star Wars films and directing Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Abrams recently revealed he almost stepped away from the “crazy leap of faith” of helming the final film in the sequel trilogy.

“I wasn’t supposed to be there. I wasn’t the guy, ya’ know? I was working on some other things," Abrams told Fast Company.

"And then [President of Lucasfilm] Kathy Kennedy called and said, ‘Would you really, seriously, consider coming aboard?’ 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.’”

“It was almost, on a personal level, a dangerous thing to get too close to something that you care that much about,” he continued. “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?”

Abrams also opened up about the mammoth task he inherited in 2017, with Disney committing to a 2019 release date despite the lack of progress of the film.

“You’ve got two years from the decision to do it to release, and you have literally nothing," Abrams said. "You don’t have the story, you don’t have the cast, you don’t have the designers, the sets.”

This, coupled with the challenge of following the story laid out in Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, became a major responsibility for the director.

“It was a completely unknown scenario,” Abrams said. “I had some gut instincts about where the story would have gone. But without getting in the weeds on Episode VIII, that was a story that Rian wrote and was telling based on seven before we met. So he was taking the thing in another direction.

“[Episode IX] was not just following what we had started, it was following what we had started and then had been advanced by someone else. So there was that, and, finally, it was resolving nine movies.”

However, Abrams now thinks he pulled off that “enormous challenge”, saying audiences may witness “something incredibly special” when the film finally lands this December.

So, will Abrams have stuck to Johnson’s plot twists in The Last Jedi, or will he make changes to revelations about Rey’s parentage? Will we finally learn about the mysterious background of Supreme Leader Snoke? And how exactly does Mark Hamill fit into Abrams’ plot?

Much to ponder, we have.


Star Wars: Episode IX will be released in UK cinemas on 19th December 2019


Sponsored content