When J.J. Abrams signed on to helm a little-known blockbuster by the name of Episode VII, and Lucasfilm’s wildly ambitious masterplan for its dormant Star Wars franchise was still in its infancy, many assumed that the former Star Trek director would oversee the development of only one movie. Hell, Abrams likely believed that the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was just that. But it turns out destiny had other plans for the illustrious filmmaker.
In light of Colin Trevorrow’s sudden departure from Episode IX – rumor has it that the relationship between director and studio quickly deteriorated due to a lack of tangible progress – the Powers That Be over at Lucasfilm turned to Abrams in their time of need, and once the necessary paperwork was complete, J.J. Abrams was officially named to be the director of Star Wars: Episode IX. Talk about going full circle.
But as Abrams recalled in a new interview with Rolling Stone (via CBM), once work was complete on The Force Awakens, he had “no intention” of ever returning to Lucasfilm’s crown jewel.
I had no intention to return. But when the opportunity presented itself to finish a story that we had begun with these new characters, to tell the last chapter of their story, it felt like there was a chance to do it in a way where we could go beyond, and do better than we did in VII. I learned so much in that movie and I saw that this was a chance to sort of realize something that we hadn’t quite achieved – and part of that was it was simply the beginning of these new characters and their story. The opportunity to sort of take what we had learned, to take the feeling of who these characters are and what they are and give them a final chapter that felt in the spirit of what we begun? It was too delicious of an opportunity to pass up.
Rian Johnson’s name may have been mentioned as an early contender to replace Colin Trevorrow, but now that The Last Jedi director has been placed in control of Lucasfilm’s nascent fourth trilogy, Johnson’s job is more to do with future-proofing the Star Wars series, as opposed to closing out the current trilogy.
And if there’s one cast member who was overly pleased with J.J. Abrams’ decision, it’s Daisy Ridley:
Everyone was saying it was going to be Rian and everything, so I was genuinely quite surprised, and was like ‘Oh my God!’ and I started crying immediately with three people in the office. And they were like, ‘What the f**k just happened?’ So I emailed J.J. saying, ‘Oh my God I am crying.’ And he goes, ‘Oh my God, me too.’ And then we had a conversation a few days later and we stay in touch. But we stayed in touch the whole time anyway.
Once The Last Jedi lays claim to the Christmas box office on December 15th, J.J. Abrams will return to the trilogy he helped create in time for Star Wars: Episode IX. It’ll be with us in December of 2019.