JJ Abrams explains the set up for Star Wars Episode VIII

The finish line is almost in sight for JJ Abrams. With just over a month until Star Wars: The Force Awakens (you may have heard of it…) finally opens, the director’s enviable and undesirable task of rebooting one of cinemas’ most beloved franchises will be complete. Now everyone’s obsessing about the sequels!

Speaking with Wired (opens in new tab), Abrams explained how his Episode VII will transition into Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII: “The script for 8 is written. I’m sure rewrites are going to be endless, like they always are. But what [Lawrence Kasdan] and I did was set up certain key relationships, certain key questions, conflicts. And we knew where certain things were going.

“We had meetings with Rian and Ram Bergman, the producer of 8. They were watching dailies when we were shooting our movie. We wanted them to be part of the process, to make the transition to their film as seamless as possible. I showed Rian an early cut of the movie, because I knew he was doing his rewrite and prepping. And as executive producer of 8, I need that movie to be really good. Withholding serves no one and certainly not the fans. So we’ve been as transparent as possible.”

The director also gave some rather encouraging details about his thinking for The Force Awakens: “We wanted to tell a story that had its own self-contained beginning, middle and end, but at the same time, like A New Hope, implied a history that preceded it and also hinted at a future to follow”.

Abrams added: “When Star Wars first came out, it was a film that both allowed the audience to understand a new story, but also to infer all sorts of exciting things that might be. In that first movie, Luke wasn’t necessarily the son of Vader, he wasn’t necessarily the brother of Leia, but it was all possible. The Force Awakens has this incredible advantage, not just of a passionate fan base, but also of a backstory that is familiar to a lot of people.

“We’ve been able to use what came before in a very organic way, because we didn’t have to reboot anything. We didn’t have to come up with a backstory that would make sense; it’s all there. But these new characters, which Force is very much about, find themselves in new situations – so even if you don’t know anything about Star Wars, you’re right there with them. If you are a fan of Star Wars, what they experience will have added meaning.” It all sounds very promising!

Directed by Abrams and starring Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac and Gwendoline Christie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is released in UK cinemas on December 17 2015 before opening in US theatres a day later. Check out our analysis of the international trailer below…

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