Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker director and co-writer J.J. Abrams has never ended any franchise he has started on the big screen before until now. Here's why.
J.J Abrams is known for picking up the ball or starting a new game, when it comes to making movies. Since his first feature film, 2006's underrated Mission: Impossible 3, up through Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015, the filmmaker has made a career out of continuing or starting or rebooting installments in franchises and then leaving before having to wrap them up.
Rise of Skywalker is the first time Abrams has ended something he has finished on the big screen --or on the small screen, for that matter. The director walked away from Star Wars after making The Force Awakens, handing it off to Rian Johnson for The Last Jedi. His intent then was, famously, to stop being the guy who plays in everyone else's sandbox and franchise and hopefully go off and come up with his own original movie. But, according to Abrams, the offer to come back to the franchise and finish what he started -- the challenge of that -- was too good to pass up. Especially for one of Hollywood's biggest Star Wars fans.
Abrams recently sat down with Entertainment Weekly to share why ending the trilogy he started was daunting, and why ending the Skywalker Saga with his upcoming Star Wars movie was, obviously, scary to tackle.
What You Can Learn
Abrams unpacks a lot here. He further endorses the value of doing as much shooting on location and practical special effects, as it helps the actors better visualize and execute the filmmakers' vision and intents -- and Star Wars movies seem to be one of the last bastions (right up there with the Bond movies) of filmmaking where such a luxury is afforded.
He also stresses that, in addition to ending this new trilogy and the 40-plus years of films that came before it, finding an emotional story worth telling amongst the spectacle is key. You'd think that would be a no-brainer, but see the last decade's worth of set-piece-first blockbusters as very expensive (and emotionally meh) exceptions to that rule. Abrams excels at scenes and dialogue where it is just two people talking in rooms -- whether they be in a spaceship or not. The character dynamics through banter he is able to bring to the screen, coupled with his unique approach to investing his stories with high-but-relatable emotional stakes, make his blockbuster movies character-first. The spectacle and action come through and out of character, and that is a lesson anyone with plans to make genre films can always apply.
We will see how Abrams pulled it off when The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters December 20.