Steven Spielberg Reveals How He Convinced J.J. Abrams to Direct STAR WARS: The Force Awakens

Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall recently were interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter. During the interview Spielberg talked about how he got J.J. Abrams to direct Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Check out the interview quote below and you can read the full interview here.

Kathy, did you think of Steven to direct Star Wars: Episode 7?

KENNEDY: No. Steven and I had many conversations about J.J.

SPIELBERG: I brought J.J.'s name up. I thought J.J. would be the best person to direct Episode 7 and I called J.J. and said 'Would you do it if it was offered to you?' He said, 'I would but my wife won't let me 'cause she doesn't want me to restart any more franchises.' But I went to Kathy and asked if I could get J.J. to say yes to this would you consider it? Kathy said 'Are you kidding? Of course I would. But why would J.J. do Star Wars; he's already done Mission Impossible and Star Trek.' So I take Katie Abrams and J.J. to dinner that night to Giorgio with my wife, Kate, and right in front of Katie Abrams I popped the question. I said to Katie, 'I think there's a chance that J.J. could direct Star Wars. What do you think of that?' And Katie turned to J.J. and said, 'That would be amazing. Really?' And I went outside the restaurant, picked up my phone, called Kathy and said, "When can we meet with J.J.?" And that's how the whole thing began.

So when you look at young directors, how do you know you're not hiring another Josh Trank [who directed Fantastic Four]?

SPIELBERG: Who is that?

KENNEDY: It's all instinctual. One of the things I've come to realize since I've been in this position of keeping Star Wars going is that in addition to looking for somebody who can creatively have an impact, you're really looking for leadership skills. No one steps into these big movies without being able to genuinely lead the charge with hundreds of people and [handle] the relationship with the studio. That's a very difficult thing to do, and you don't know [a person can do] that until you get to spend time and watch somebody operate. It's a strange time in our lives where we're hiring many filmmakers who have been influenced by the movies that we've made over the years.

SPIELBERG: Well, it's like a passing of the torch. I know what it feels like to my generation looking back at the filmmakers who influenced us. And yet we're not them, we're ourselves, and we have to figure out what kind of a voice we have. You've got to be able to have heroes you aspire to be like, but you can't imitate them. You have to figure out what you have to contribute to the art form.

KENNEDY: And I think the interesting thing is a lot of people keep asking me, "Well, what did you guys do when you formed Amblin, and what was the business model, and what were you …"

SPIELBERG: Business model? Come on.

KENNEDY: I'm like, what?! We didn't do any of that. We were just making what we felt we wanted to see. It's interesting 'cause nowadays it feels that people approach these things in a much more calculated way because there is so much at stake, frankly. There is so much more money being spent. But when we were doing it, it was completely instinctual.

SPIELBERG: If you're creating a story, if you're a writer or a producer, you're unconscious of stuff that's written every day in the trades. You're unconscious that there are trade magazines.

MARSHALL: No offense.

You just earned points!
Login to save points.
Earn your spot on the leaderboard.

You earned RPF Pulse points!

You're on your way to the top of the leaderboard!