J.J. Abrams on the making of 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'

The director talks to Peter Travers about the final film in the trilogy.
25:22 | 12/13/19

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Transcript for J.J. Abrams on the making of 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'
There at. I don't they're probably are other group is there are you don't know from. My guess JJ Abrams who has to wrecked his. Star Wars the rice's. It's. This has to be the most pressure. That's ever been police department your cat. This is not only the left of recent trilogy. But the end of the nine movie site. You know what those guys that are behind game round at this stuff but. Well yeah. It ended I know what you know you you're not gonna please everyone. Well acted to give it that is that your but the people that watch you know a Star Wars in I don't know Dugard near an army. It. They can on you did but that you can't you can't look at fans of the of Star Wars as an adversary hadn't sort of you know their passionate and and certainly. Can be contentious but. The fact that they care you know. I feel like as a star was and understand that that love for this year's so you know I I feel. I feel blessed to be involved in something that matter so much as some people. It always matter do you. What we can't wait ten or eleven if ten you can look at that if and that was it it was obviously. Mind expanding in. Immediately something that just. You you knew that things have changed you know when that movie had you feel when for so. I did I thought it was a game changer yet what I was too into it. You know it's like one of those things where if you're watching a movie and you are. Can write about it if you something you take notes but when the movies really where you don't take enough you could see another time. If you want to write about I suggest it's basically. Oh what he's yes yes yes what it it it it it had such an impact. Obviously you know on audiences. On filmmakers and and and yet. Not just that the technology that of it but but you know. Them the sort of world expanding. Nature of it the sense of opportunity possibility. And at this thing that for me you know as. As a filmmaker you know I would I feel very lucky to get involved in it. On this one. I kind of went with a different point of view having done one way. It was up to challenge the ambition of it was so enormous not just because. It was another star was because of the end of not three movies at 99. And that was really the thing that I thought this makes me really comfortable. It's so that was sort of that the reason to do it away it was to it sort of finish what what we've started with this this trilogy but to take this on a way that you know. It endings are not not come easily. Do you stay away from it. While you were actually shooting a movie they were more away from the Internet stay away what he does there always thing. Well happy do that we heard I feel that every time I read something. Where someone is. Is you know. And support me. Which is a kind way of saying brutal but. I can ago you know like what they've got a point that would ever read someone saying oh. He's the greatest thing you know and like they don't know what the conflict like I always feel like I I sympathize with the people who. Who have the sort of more negative things so it's not that it's not a pleasant thing to ever read something that that's negative. But I also feel like. You know spirited debate is not a bad thing and end in certainly you can fight to them online we off questions you can answer any. Right now right this minute backed the but the fact is for the cameras the but when he looked at the I see this coming and it's the end and nice day. Easy britney's plane ray and I don't know her parents are and I can find out who is this movie gonna reveal certain things that happened to mountain just. Who's your daddy is what committee's requests through all not likely to talk on top of future site no it let's say that. That this movie and as it and an ending. Needed to have answers but he must have answered you you know it doesn't answer all the questions we. JJ if I didn't I didn't believe that man. Yes yes all of them that's. I think we've we've. We knew going in that we had to. Make this feel conclusive it had to be it had to come to an end and and yet you know there are certain things that I feel. Here's where you must go. Good because going to be the thing that is the reason that I loved the original trilogy so much. And and the reason I love that we're told you more than the prequel. Which was that the original trilogy. Posed great questions. And allowed you to. You know in an infer the answer is it allowed you to. Do the math on Europe. And and the prequel trilogy which you know I love for a lot of reasons but but but it's not as much my favorite. Is that an answer a lot of questions. I'm not someone who needs to know. About medical he'd understand. And that the flow and the medical equipment understand like that's not who doesn't feel like it's the thing for me. That's not to say however in this movie we didn't adhere to. The eight films that proceeded us and and until an ending that embraces all of I didn't go against that stuff because I know you know didn't like much but. My point is that there's something about answers you need answers. But I don't think mystifying everything. Is necessarily the the key to a successful stories New Hampshire some of your favorite films. Allow something the American ambiguity. Is what is wrong with the little. Because that's would you take home a few things that tops your friends that's exactly and that's it yet. OK so I can argue maybe I'll write me do you think your I think you're wrong and you have. You called steered it sometimes it's ugly so there are people just say. Eve be still stupid that is true in Winnetka now known I don't know that it goes. It's up just less than anything never true if you know but I but articulate that that. Interpret interpret ability. On certain subject is like that the reason that we one of the reasons that we still talk about 2001. It's like me. That was not have a clear cut ending. No reason that is the Phillies could see that doesn't but but it we have this conversation because not everything was given to it having said that we knew that this news. You know to fill for families is that this is not a net to be something. That people are supposed to leave. Feeling like they didn't understand it. And yet we want to make sure the people felt like. Not everything that demystify and it isn't but what we hand when you take this to a conclusion. Now we have in the original universe which you basically handled in the sport to where unions. Is we've lost almost everybody who accept prince's letter. We didn't lose in terms of carrier after so you've used some footage that existed before too. Yeah it was it was crazy when we began the process and realize that we couldn't didn't want to tell the story without land. It's so critical to the story that. We knew we would recast her obviously we knew that we didn't want to digital and Carrie Fisher who's. We know care it would. Upset when that about it some things that she would. And then it would we realize that we did have something that she said we've filmed scenes we used were forced awakened. Which were at the time was a nightmare not only got how to cut anything with Carrey. I hated it there a couple things you know. She was that we cut you know. And suddenly realized we have this footage. That we can use and re purpose and and have heard not be digital have for the you know in emotional and funny and and you know scenes are there are currently. And so we wrote entire scenes around the pieces that we had. And it's uncanny. We don't have. Console anymore I don't happen yet the movie it's called the rise of Scott yes which suggest the kind of new hope. Who but. Going it I don't understand why retton how could this be you'll understand when you. You got the answer well maybe I won't let out just come what what it has nothing to do with nearly. If notes like value yet it what. Is yet but I'd really would like he did talk a little bit about the easy really sharing and having one. At the center of this yet cuts. It's it's not like or dislike it wasn't at the center but she didn't have an arc that was happening but we kind of go away from it was the guy dueling with. Who light sabers that we remember yet and she does all that. Well first of all. We lucked out and the biggest way casting daisy in an forcefully and she as much as I knew this was going to be a challenge for me and you can count for her and never doubted that she you know. Would you the soft but she's gone so far beyond that I thought even she could do. In this not just physically you know doing extraordinary stuff that way but but emotionally I mean it is a it is a very. If that if the big rousing fun adventure. But there's this sort of the story you make in your cell and you know you've written in and is from the secret story telling it really interest you. And there's this story that. She you know her arc which he goes through. That really tested her and and there are things that she does in this film. That I think are just. Truly remarkable she her performance in this movie is so good she's so. Her she's so open she's so. Complex. She's much more mature like I didn't think when we were doing forced awakens she's like a baby but now I do you look back some of that stuff like oh my god she was. Nearly unformed as good she was he was just. She is matured. And answer arrived in a way in this movie you know Adam drivers extraordinary after I think I'm way to they're all great. But days you just blows me. Well growing up and a driver and title ring and talk about family and who's your daddy is there soon. Our our hero yes you know Hans follow it this way yet he's fearful father is Vator but it. Yes still talk about it but it is not well I think that that it's. But that the skywalker saga is and has always been a family story. And given a really dysfunctional him. But at least. That is yet and a bit but I do think that the that complexity talk about. That thing that that the question if the son of hunt and licked a return to the dark side can't any of us you know what is it to be. That that that kid of these these heroes. And we've all seen people who are. Children of certain people that go. Go dark. You know the the idea of of being drawn to attracted to. This powered this purpose that you know you could never be the thing your parents war. You know what should I be you know goalie turning against them you know. I think there's more of that. In the real world that we might think or or might you know might Eden. The be aware of but I I I think we're all aware that that's what where he is so pop that's. But I feel like the story for re you know her connection we have Carlo ran you know that is. Really it at that though the heart of these. Emotional story in this movie and the thing you're talking about a very much of things at the movie. Is there a Bible somewhere with a George Lucas left behind something that the actual Bible Belt the well there are a lot. Of their error occurred here if it actually is your everywhere that there was never you know a a Bible that I saw that from Georgian beginning. It was never a Bible that. We wrote from the beginning when where and Larry has and I are working on forced awakens. We a lot of ideas and things we wanted to do in episode seven. In that film that we just couldn't get you couldn't do the Luke training things and rate there just wasn't time to do all that until we knew they would happen subsequently. That. You that would George you know showing to all of us that when you have the better ideas. You change it. Which he's done again and again in these subsequent releases of the films like you know return of the Jenna was revenge of the Jetta. The poster eaten them things like return is now expert and I think the lesson of you know you have the idea you'd think you're gonna pursue. And then you have the better idea and well if there's time lasted. So. In this story. You know I always knew we are doing so at seven. There were certain things that I I felt for me and I was never supposed to do this movie. I would mean do you work it. I would need to see at the end of this trilogy you know at the end of these nine films. And then kept Kathy Kennedy called that we come on one of the attractions was. Let yet to actually. Do these things as opposed to just back seat yeah. Well I wish I wish you are in this trilogy doing the first part and the third part the last part. While Ryan Johnson comes in and as the middle part yeah and he kills off a few people. And yet the outrageous though everybody else but yeah yeah you have temperatures have got to kills a hot topic. I mean I don't know human wiped out everybody you know and yet I know about the whats but. It's just you that you combatants at 80 my god like ball. I would expect that ideally you have a problem here executives he would pick up his fifth Gary as if it yet that he would love pure. They would all yeah. But you did you feel that you wouldn't somebody asking did indeed adults and you know you had sort of lost this brings what do. For for a moment I felt like oh okay because you know the we have talked about doing. Episode eight but the truth was I was beginning to direct episode seven. And there was quite a bit to think about and I didn't have the brainpower. Or you know. Or the approval of my family to connect coffee and wait for that they had an it was just things were you know all around it was not. The right thing to say you know at the beginning of episodes seven. Let's talk about a you know when I was a kid growing up whenever we would be in the meal. Be lunch and my mom would always say OK to forget what would win money for the regular. We're just we just like dinner like it should go to but the stuff like that but I would just earnings reflect the fair mark Cappy. Highlight. And then when Ryan came on and he would start writing and I was. Variations he used in the due in recent. Meeting and he obviously read forcefully conscripts and that I read this script and what what I loved about it was its. Subversive nature I love that it was about shock it was not surprise. It was about. The sort of man. Take on the Jan there was it was it was a very. Different approach that would I would have done which is one of the reasons why it was fun to read and I was an M 88 a real fan of his directors I just knew he was gonna. Do something extraordinary wit and you know I was like oh jealous that he was doing the things I thought oh it's so much fun he gets to sort of continue the story with these cared if when I was. Ultimately. In my selfish you know. Myopia my I was I was thrilled. That nothing was was rendered. Un doable from all the things happened in that movie. And a weird way where the last and you know it it it it doesn't. It doesn't fundamentally shift. The parent and so I felt myself like oh well that story can still happen you know an account what about my way and then X number of you know. Years later Kathy called like and you might not have been it's very difficult in this whole franchise seniors. To claim ownership. Oh yeah for George Lucas because he came up with the idea. By the way I wouldn't argue it's beyond him. I would argue that that Star Wars is not it's bigger than all of the meat even George who of course is only one can really claim ownership. What you say but even George in a way I would guess. House to admit that this thing. Star Wars is bigger than anyone and it at any of us and I just think it's it's it's the fans but of course it's you know it's George's creation well. You know it Bob hikers book there's that. Big he said what he was disappointed in the forced to wait because it was too much like new hope. But to me. And I'd want to hear what you say about I think it's you were introduced. A new generation. To the old Jenner yet. So the connection there. It's really strong journey that I don't feel in the pre course because of the that there are a number of things that we obviously intentionally. Did. In a kind of history repeats itself. Mold to say we are introducing. This. We're brand new cast of characters this storm trooper who runs from the the the first order this scavenger who is living literally in the wreckage of the history of the movies that we now in this hotshot pilot we don't know is history but he's joined the resistance to find lay. Years later sort of unable to give up the fight because Michigan's most smoke from miles away whereas time you know at this point what what is he up. That the fun of asking where are these existing characters and revisiting some of the themes and it's okay to some of those locations. From the original story. To me was part of doing this thing as they continue and which is to say. It's not just about going to new lands and meeting characters it's it's about embracing what what's come before us that the characters you meet in episode seven. Imagine it chapter seven of a book it's it's not about having entirely brand new you know we booted it's a continuation of view of the one story. So in that way you know and look is there a big giant planet sized weapon and in force waking yes. And it doesn't blow up it does blow up at and so there aren't. Are undeniable you know parallels but in a way because there had not been just hours in long time prequel with a ones that proceeded. I very purposely wanted to sort of revisit. The old in order to start until the new and then that was the challenge again for those who hate it. I could not respect your opinion more ever those who love it I question your sanity. I just let me but I'll post a few years is there just it outright chaos at the time and and and as does this when. Well you just mentioned something and I know I happily go soon but the the idea that there's a history. You work with a lot of the same people. Thank you work with a lot because you basically have been eased to trust you with them to do X it's fascinating to meet the Keri Russell is in the yes I don't know what to planes typically with care and and resorted lists yet what explains Everett say yes to thank you Iraq Iran if you can that about but. You love is output I I don't need to know. Anything out. But except that she was the star felicity looks which was almost the beginning for you when you were doing TV cards you've done you know. Millions of other things including that little thing called lost. You know a world where we all have questions and were doing it yet but. When you think back to those days and where you're doing felicity which is the opposite. Up all of these movies that didn't move you that you have a myth that the simplicity. Very much is finally we have the show. That that we're we're doing producing. For apple call little voice that that Sarah guerrillas and Jessie Nelson are doing and it's a young woman in York and watching dailies for that show. So put me in them the mindset during this down to clean and a wonderful way of felicity because it's it's a romantic. Sweet young person show about people in the city and and it just is you know. I really do miss that because there was a something. Sort of wonderful and safe in the group was so great and I just that reason my oldest friends and opening was just was this was just wonderful but working with Kerry on this is what it is a scene. Between her character and asked his character and in this one moment. She. She says and she's got a whole crazy outfit and masking everything but at one point she looks image introduces hey now every scene felicity started it. My letter written rule that if you help as like literally. Turn on any sympathy but any thought to that let and I think forty reps at that but it was just hearing her say okay. Utley. Well my heart there's. Duplicity she's wonderful art people see you looked at that when you go when to do and it's a good one man is there Kelvin. It's what you ask. Tell that being your grandfather my grandfather yet that there was there was Calvin we mention Calvin in episode seven and are hard thing to do. Again in this once we actually didn't overtly mentioned Calvin in this movie I'm disappointed in two obviously it did you know I think he should go up and moving up again. It without them I didn't change Alibaba didn't want to promote it reasonable thing. Is that the united OK what's eating of the into that we we in the taken minutes he had a couple of questions from them how he'll be really nice. I'm hoping now that hatred will put a hater here you wrote it. Up okay leads me no oil at ninety -- is is that going to be epic in this movie great question is great. OJ Enola. And whether to question a government you know 96 new. Yeah which said. Is an epic fifth in the I will say without saying kind of who it is. That you do not leave this movie without experiencing a case. But that could mean operative that. And I'd be more than one I don't know I really think you paid CIA training. And that's whether it is okay next line. I hull. I closed AGCO Rex I can't do that what are your favorite hymn theories that would let the public that you actually wish you might have done. Move. There was one this said that. Jar jar banks was our affiliates. It's like. I just thought is that if that was. Those who would be great let's go that well. You know you this the first time you've been here's which he would come all the time I've definitely got this new muffler it would be heat for you pick up the a year from anything that we discuss Everest it. That it's it lets do you I would look to every one it was everywhere instead of spoiler delivery to do it that haven't but we always and install. You musician well that's very general our youth group themes for all of these teams unit but. I ask you something is this your personal thing mr. He new home the regional John Williams Star Wars theme for us tickets out. Then and then. I thought my license may be hurt if it is yours. He's a little bit of I think he did if you don't think.

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