Full J.J. Abrams Interview With Vanity Fair!

J.J. AbramsVanity Fair published their full interview with J.J. Abrams. Among other things, The Force Awakens director described how they were trying to recapture the spirit of the original trilogy and revealed what it was like to work with the legendary actor Max von Sydow…



Excerpts from the interview:


Tell me about what it was like working on the new film both as its writer-director and as a hard-core Star Wars fan going back to your childhood.


Maybe the weirdest moment, which came months after production, was the first time I sat down with John Williams to show him about a half an hour of the movie. I can’t describe the feeling. All I will say is, just to state the facts of it: I am about to show John Williams 30 minutes of a Star Wars movie that he has not seen that I directed.



John Williams


I think maybe a better way to express how I feel about those movies is that they had a certain knowingness, because of the way the characters are, so archetypal, and the way they reference a lot of film history, like Luke gazing out at the two setting suns the way someone would in a John Ford Western.


And you know that in the Star Wars universe there are going to be certain things that you’re going to want to see, and that’s cool and that’s great. But what I realized early on was it was all about point of view—meaning it’s not like you just objectively throw in a star field or a spaceship or a desert planet or whatever the thing. The question is, who is that person in that experience? Why does it matter to them? What are they desperate for or afraid of? For me, you could reference all the stuff you want, but the experience of the audience in this is that they’ve got to be sitting with someone who happens to be on-screen going through these experiences. And then that’s not just a desert planet; it could be the most desperate place in the world. Or that’s not just a spaceship flying by; it could be the greatest, most heroic moment of your life.





Directing a Star Wars movie is one thing. Directing Max von Sydow in a Star Wars movie must have been . . . intimidating?


It was amazing. What a sweet man. When we were first communicating, he didn’t have email. So I had to fax something to him. I was trying to woo him, so I made this big hand-drawn cover page that said Fax von Sydow with this whole thing, trying to convince him why he should be in this movie. I don’t think he thought that was funny. But he was awesome. It was interesting because normally I would be nothing but terrified at the thought of directing an actor like Max von Sydow because, you’d think, That’s a guy who’s going to see right through you. But the truth is he was such a gentleman, so sweet, that he made it easy. He had to work a lot of late nights, too, and he was a complete trooper. He and his wife were both wonderful. And when he said good-bye to me, he gave me what he claims in his home country is a compliment and—I didn’t research this to corroborate it—but he gave me, literally, a kick in the ass as good luck. And I thought, Max von Sydow just kicked my ass. It’s pretty amazing.



For the full interview by Bruce Handy click HERE.


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Founder of SWNN, MNN and The Cantina forums.

Born on April 24, 1980.

Val Trichkov (Viral Hide)

Founder of SWNN, MNN and The Cantina forums.Born on April 24, 1980.

75 thoughts on “Full J.J. Abrams Interview With Vanity Fair!

  • May 7, 2015 at 11:04 am

    I`ve said it before on these forums – just so thankful JJ`s in charge of this movie – just feels like we`re in incredibly safe hands,it`s almost like as an uber-fan himself JJ is representing all of us in the directing chair.

    • May 7, 2015 at 11:26 am

      I’m not on the “JJ should direct all three of them/Let’s hope he’ll be back for Ep. IX” bandwagon, because I like the idea of having different directors and different approaches, but I completely agree with Andy: Abrams really seems invested in this like a true fan!

      • May 7, 2015 at 4:27 pm

        Abrams was a perfect choice to take the reins for the first installment of the ST, but I’m with you 100%. Having three different, great directors was one reason why the OT was so awesome.

        • May 7, 2015 at 5:33 pm

          There was a time when I said the same of Bob Orci regarding Star Trek. He seemed like such a big fan, so surely he’d know what to do and what not to do.
          That said, JJ’s comments about the OT always make me hopeful. He clearly gets it.

    • May 7, 2015 at 1:46 pm

      I’m with you, Andy. I can’t see a better option, nor one that gets close to him. It’s perfect, and the way he’s approaching it, at least in words, is magnifique. What he says about Episode IV is so true. It’s not even my fav Star Wars film, but that film is the core of it all thanks to how believable it was, and the characters are pretty well defined. You look at Episode I, maybe it’s a necessary part of the whole mythology, but there’s no characterization. QuiGon, Padme, ObiWan, Panaka… there’s almost no difference in the way these characters are approached beyond dialog. Anakin, JarJar and C3PO are the kiddy ones but not that different among them. That’s why Watto is by far (IMO) the greates character of Episode I.

      I think it’s all about the efford that Lucas did to connect his work with Joseph Campbell’s studies which makes Episode IV so unique, and Abrams seems to be in the same line. That’s why I trust him completly with the choice of John Boyega: he’s that kind of actor that can bring a devoted performance in a film like this.

      • May 7, 2015 at 4:59 pm

        Dude, I feel the same about Watto. Only “character” in episode 1. Just no heart in the prequels. Seems so bland.
        Obi-Wan in 2 and 3 was good but he had nobody to act by his side.

        The original trilogy was similar if you take out Solo, Chewbacca, Yoda, Obi-Wan, Vader, Lando and Jabba. Luke was passable in Empire and Jedi but not ANH.

        How could I forget Tarkin. He was cold and calculated but he was the one character that should have been.

    • May 7, 2015 at 6:25 pm

      Definitely, I can’t stsnd the Troll/Haters out there, that have been going out of their way to find something to criticize.

      The movie will be great, maybe not your favorite, but exceptional in quality.

    • May 7, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      Oh no you’ve got it all wrong. The type of fan wanking that occurs in these types of scenarios is very well known to anyone who has seen Superman Returns, Fantastic Four and it’s sequel or the most recent Spiderman films.

      In all of these cases the studios hired directors who were enthusiastic about the projects because of their fandom, and what we got was soulless garbage in return.

      To be perfectly honest, if the rumors surrounding the plot are true, this sounds like more of the same. I see Abrams making a lot of the same mistakes Bryan Singer made with Superman Returns, throwing us into a scenario that is designed to evoke as much nostalgia as possible rather than delivering a great original story.

      And that’s really pathetic because it’s not at all difficult to throw together a great original story based on Star Wars, it’s just a cynical industry where suits call the shots and make decisions based on numbers in a spreadsheet. Everything people love about these films is broken down into equations and turned into a formula.

      With any luck Lucasfilm will be able to break out of that mold to some degree and avoid the paint by numbers and connect the obviously laid out dots nature of similar franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

      Abrams certainly isn’t the worst possible choice, but if this turns out good I’m sure it’ll have a lot to do with the fact that Abrams isn’t really I’m charge here, he’s a hired hand.

      I think Abrams’ is a capable director but he’s hardly a visionary he’s not even particularly great at mimicking other filmmakers beyond a very superficial level, and we should especially be thankful Abrams wasn’t able to bring in his bff screenwriters Lindleof, Orci and Kurtzman onto this project as well.

      Disney is putting enormous trust into Abrams but also reigning him in. This isn’t his baby.

      • May 7, 2015 at 9:12 pm

        Comparing padawan Singer with Master Abrams, unfortunate is.

        If so easy it is, your own Star Wars you can write. Love it we will? Or laugh at it. Brave enough, if post it here you do.

    • May 7, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      Because we fans all agree on what makes good Star Wars, right… 😉

      I agree that Abrams is perfect for this one by the way.

    • May 8, 2015 at 12:05 am

      @ Andy

      I didn’t care for Abram’s Star Trek, nor any of JJ’s other film/TV endeavors.

      As far as I’m concerned, the ST is not a slam dunk by any stretch of the imagination because JJ’s in the director’s chair.

      Now we will see what’s what come December…until then, I am cautiously optimistic.

    • May 8, 2015 at 12:13 am


    • May 8, 2015 at 6:30 am

      wow, this statement almost echoes why Abrams should NOT be in the directors chair.

      Hopefully Abrams used Lucas treatments and turned them into a good script, and film ( like kasdan did on ESB and ROTJ)

      otherwise, its just 200 million dollar fan fiction.

    • May 9, 2015 at 12:03 am

      Just like we were in safe hands (ST) with Khan’s magic blood?

  • May 7, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Nobody notied in the sdeshow on the bottom that Maz kanata is not just a pirate, she’s the leader, and even has a castle, on a wood planet. I guess she found Anakin’s lightsaber somewhere. And I can see some major plot parts. Remember inciendiary troopers being shot on a similar place?

    • May 7, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      Interesting! I think Captain Phasma photo from Vanity Fair is the outside of the castle, as far as the walls are concerned.

      • May 7, 2015 at 2:06 pm

        right! So good characters go there, or just leia, and gets lightsaber. First order goes there after that and burns everything around.

      • May 7, 2015 at 9:42 pm

        I think there are two “castles,” one good and one evil.

    • May 7, 2015 at 5:08 pm

      Hmmm… maybe that is how the movie starts, Kylo searching for the original Anakin’s lightsaber. That’s when he then burns the pirate’s castle…..

  • May 7, 2015 at 11:34 am

    = Firmus Piett

    • May 7, 2015 at 11:55 am

      died on board the executor.

    • May 7, 2015 at 9:24 pm

      What if Max von Sydows character is Cassio Tagge? He knew Darth Vader personally, right! But now Kylo Ren is proclaiming that he is Darth Vader!

      Cassio Tagge was Grand General whose flagship was superstar destroyer Annihilator. Could the Super Star Destroyer that we see in the trailer, be Tagge’s flagship. What do you think?

      • May 7, 2015 at 9:47 pm

        “What if Max von Sydows character is Cassio Tagge?”

        Interesting. Especially since they recently resurrected him in post ANH canon. And Max is only three years older than the original actor (now deceased).

  • May 7, 2015 at 11:59 am

    The master of story depth and complex characters has spoken… I mean you dont just throw in Spocks homeplanet and then blow it up. You dont make Kirk a spoiled brat, but show his deep complexity and why starfleet would recruit such unlike character. It all connects so sophisticated

    • May 7, 2015 at 12:22 pm

      1) “Star Wars” was never about ‘complex characters’: it is a very straightforward and classic storyline with iconic characters; the depth comes from the character’s arc.

      2) When Abrams wrote Star Trek he didn’t have Kasdan working with him – and since Kasdan wrote ESB, I’d say this could be a pretty big difference.

      • May 7, 2015 at 12:51 pm

        Kasdan didn’t write ESB; Lucas did, then Kasdan did some script polishes.

        • May 7, 2015 at 1:08 pm

          Both wrong. Make sure you look up Leigh Brackett. Kasdan’s contributions are much more than polish.

          • May 7, 2015 at 5:05 pm

            Ever read Leigh Brackett’s ESB script? Lucas and Kasdan threw out almost the entire thing.

        • May 7, 2015 at 1:52 pm

          Athodyd is right, and nonetheless, I can tell you that in screen-writing the re-writing is far more important than the writing itself.

          I recommend you the Making Of Star Wars books in which the process is extremely detailed. Lucas is the big mind here, no doubt, but Kasdan genuine and fearless voice towards some Lucas’ ideas makes what Star Wars is today.

        • May 7, 2015 at 6:00 pm

          “some”? what do you mean “some”??

          • May 7, 2015 at 7:07 pm

            For instance having two death stars in Return of the Jedi, or being beside Kershner against Lucas’ first edit of The Empire Strikes back.

            In some others Lucas was not that keen (of course, he’s the creator), like with the role of the Ewoks, with which he went all the way with the teddy beards destroying a whole army.

            I’m not blaming Lucas for this, I think his role in the OT was unbeatable from being a great creator to learn to listen other’s opinions towards his child, but Kasdan contribution and fearless word is key to the whole process.

    • May 7, 2015 at 1:12 pm

      “buddha”: JJ’s Star Trek (both installments) took profound risks and got quite complicated — destroying Vulcan was brave and intensely interesting; Abrams solved the problem of rebooting the franchise without obliterating or ignoring prior canon. That’s no mean feat. You’ll say that it is, in hindsight, but you’re writing comments on the internet and JJ’s making movies. Unfortunately, the entire second half of your paragraph is unintelligible. Something about Kirk . . . vaguely echoing a review I’ve read before by a more cogent writer.

  • May 7, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Wow, you guys managed to edit out some of what I thought were the most interesting points in the VF article, definitely worth clicking the link.

    I think JJ’s whole opening point about how little was explained in ANH was – I thought – very well said.
    Couldn’t agree more with JJ on this, about how there was a certain “lack of exposition” that gave every scene a sense of mystery and awe [so I hear anyways, I wouldn’t know because I grew up with the Prequels]
    Damn it, I’m starting to like this guy, and this is coming from someone who virulently hates the New Star Trek films.

    This is a great interview.

    • May 7, 2015 at 12:20 pm

      To be fair…Orci and Kurtzmann wrote on the Star Trek movies….And JJ didn´t cared…

      • May 7, 2015 at 9:18 pm

        To be fair, Orci, Kurtzman and Lindleof are Abrams’ best friends and closest collaborators going back to Felicity.

        It’s easy to put the blame on them, but the truth is that Abrams almost always works with them, has invested enormous trust in them and helped them build their careers and honestly has the same sensibilities and genuinely likes working with them.

  • May 7, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    JJ is clearly ‘on it’ in terms of how Star Wars should be approached and I think anyone who doubted him before should rest easy knowing that it is in safe hands. I’m sure the final film will have it’s critics (what film doesn’t?) but it seems pretty clear that we’re gonna be in for one hell of a ride come December!

  • May 7, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    JJ is the new master of Sci Fi. One of my favorite directors running the universe. Love it!

  • May 7, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    Sweden reporting in (where Max von Sydow is from). A kick in the ass is indeed “good luck” over here. Don’t ask me why though, we have some weird stuff..

    • May 7, 2015 at 1:58 pm

      Haha definitely a cold country, so I can see how good a kick in the ass may feel when you’re frozen up-there!
      Friendly comment, I’ve been in Göteborg and loved it 🙂

  • May 7, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    “But what I realized early on was it was all about point of view…” Sounds like JJ is referencing Obi-Wan in ROTJ here.

    • May 7, 2015 at 2:01 pm

      I think he’s talking in a technical perspective. It’s what Rebels is trying to do and works very well: focusing the attention to the characters point of view and how they experience their environment, rather than focusing on big plots and just throwing characters on the board.

  • May 7, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    New rumour! Joss Whedon might indeed become the director of Ep. IX!


    Now start your hatin…

    • May 7, 2015 at 6:04 pm

      I don’t hate Whedon, I just don’t see him doing it. He’s been moving back towards his own small-scale projects since before filming ‘Ultron, I seriously doubt he’ll just jump into the depths of Star Wars wolf-pack. Spinoffs? maybe, but nothing a big as ep IX.

    • May 7, 2015 at 9:25 pm

      He’s got a bunch of Social Justice League weirdo problems right now, even though he claimed to be one.

      They just chased him off Twitter for not having enough transsexuals in the Avengers. lol

    • May 7, 2015 at 9:26 pm

      Whedon would be a god send to Star Wars, but here’s the thing. He’s rightfully extremely jaded with Hollywood because he’s produced several enormously successful series, and is in the exclusive billion dollar grossing film club, and he somehow still gets pushed around by suits with no creative ability whatsoever.

  • May 7, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Some of these theories make me LOL. Remember the one about Lupita Nyong’o being Obi Wan Kenobi’s secret love child?

    • May 7, 2015 at 6:05 pm

      Hey, aliens can breed too! I totally see Obiwan getting comfy with a space-lady, he’s a kooky dude…

      • May 7, 2015 at 6:27 pm

        Lol, never thought of that 🙂

  • May 7, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    After I watch The Force Awakens.. one way or another.. I’m gonna want to kick JJ’s ass too! hehe..

  • May 7, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    So I read the interview and looked again at the pictures taken for VF. Someone pointed out before that the black helmet in the back row and to the right in the creature/pirate photo looks like a classic stormtrooper helmet painted black. I definitely think that’s what we’re looking at which is really cool. I like how it has “FEAR” written in Aurebesh across the front of the helmet dome. Wonder who this character is and if he/she will have any significance in the film or just be a background character.

  • May 7, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    In the photo, who is the guy at the back. I recognize JJ, Kennedy and Williams

  • May 7, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    I think JJ has learned from the much criticised ‘reverse Khan’ scene in Star Trek Into Darkness. It was too much ‘winking at the audience”. Im delighted that he gets the sincerity needed to make a Star Wars movie. The OT has some objectively silly elements (Yoda as a great warrior, a fat slug as a feared crime boss) but they are played with such sincerity that you totally buy it.

  • May 7, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Nobody reacting to the fact that JJ revealed Max is playing a trooper?

    • May 7, 2015 at 7:28 pm

      “Trooper” is a term Americans use to describe someone who is brave or very patient.

      • May 9, 2015 at 9:21 pm

        Yeah, I tried to be funny.

  • May 7, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    I read the full interview. J.J. might be the man to make a good Star Wars movie. He understands the universe and cinematic milieu.

    I wish he hadn’t ruined Star Trek. It’s a completely different franchise and he killed all that was good about it by trying to make it like Star War.

    • May 7, 2015 at 8:05 pm

      JJ did not write star trek…he directed it…ANYTHING that was changed and done in that franchise was the owner of that franchises choice…blame him not abrams…the only thing i did not like about star trek was the person they cast as Kirk…other than that it is the best Star trek Movie ever made,…they breathed new life and saved the franchise from dying…you trekkies should be thankful…not bash them…the old star trek movies are horrible low budget pieces of garbage. dont sit here and say that Abrams ruined Star Trek and say the movie is garbage and then go into your room and watch Star Trek IV the voyage home and expect anyone to agree with you…..the only trek movie worth a shit that didnt seem like a made for TV movie was the wrath of Kahn.im a huge star trek fan…and i am brave enough to admit that abrams movie was great..i am msart enough to relaize it is an alternate universe…..and besides…who is to say that they wont end up going in time and preventing Vulcan from beign destroyed and bring it back to the main star trek Universe…but until then..please cry more.

      • May 8, 2015 at 6:38 pm

        If you think the new Star trek Movies are the best ever made, then you have completely different values than I do.

        Re-read my comment. Star Wars is mythic/action orientated story. It should be swashbuckling. The open title explains it all: “in a galaxy, far, far away…”

        Star Trek, on the other hand, was always about *ideas* with a real-world grounding that explored deeper philosophical issues. The new movies strip that away.

        But you’re right that J.J. isn’t completely reasonable for the change.

        • May 9, 2015 at 12:07 am

          Power Droid, you are the man… er… the droid.

        • May 12, 2015 at 10:52 am

          I really don’t get how people hated the Star Trek movies. Maybe I’m just an easier critic cause I look at movies as entertainment. And hell, most any sci fi movie is better than how boring real life can be haha. I thought all the actors in the trek movies did it justice. Especially Kahn. Love or hate that they used him as a main villain, Benedict crushed that role. Was an amazing bad guy. And furthermore, the revamping they did, was smart. Not risky sure, but gave the availability to do more with it. Shook the character stereotypes up. Pretty genius actually to show them in a different manner yet coming back to how they originally are. Showing that although time and life changes can shake people, but ultimately who you’re destined to be, always takes hold. But no people gotta bitch about lens flares and planet Vulca blowing up. Who knows, it’s science fiction. Maybe it was just transported to a different universe. I think JJ Abrams is about as perfect for the start of the ST as possible.

  • May 7, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    I think J.J. is a really good choice.
    Kennedy is doing a good job too.
    I’m more than excited to hear the new partiture of the best composer ever.
    But also really excited about what has done the man who wrote Empire and Raiders.
    In december I think this film will blow our minds in a sick level.

  • May 7, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    “he was a complete trooper.”

    MVS is playing an old Stormtrooper – Confirmed… ;p

  • May 7, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    Comments with name calling will be deleted.

    • May 7, 2015 at 11:37 pm

      Yeah, ok VIRAL HIDE.

      • May 8, 2015 at 12:15 am

        Max Von Sydow is a living legend who’s career spanned six decades.

        Lets hope the rumors of his demise early on in the TFA are false, as this would be a great injustice.

        • May 8, 2015 at 11:22 am

          Coming from you, Tim, the whiteness of your name blinds me.

  • May 8, 2015 at 2:44 am

    When Princess Leia told Darth Vader in ANH, “The more you tighten your grip the more star systems will fall from your control” plus the trade federation of star systems in all the prequels and also the banking clan and Techno union AOC (banking clan with Emporor Palpatine in ROJ?) … we see that there is no way Luke Skywalker and rebel forces had control of the dark side of the force nor meant to!

    • May 8, 2015 at 12:09 pm

      What are you talking about? On a side note, Leia was speaking to Tarkin and said, “the more you tighten your grip Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers”. The robed figures who accompanied the emperor in ROTJ were advisors. They were not from the banking clan.

  • May 8, 2015 at 4:58 am

    The more star systems will slip through your fingers lol

  • May 8, 2015 at 5:23 am

    Jesus, i have to say im more worried than ever about the future of star wars.

    The truth is, whilst I love the original films to death (my preference order is V, IV, III, VI, (I and II are equally as bad)), i absolutely loved the mythology that the EU and prequels built up.

    I want to see a film that envokes the feelings, emotions, FUN and aesthetics of the originals whilst also continuing the awesome mythology and ideas of the EU and all 6 films.

    if half of the rumors of this film are true, it is essentially reworking the plot structure of episode IV (new naive hero taken under the wing of old crusty hero from previous trilogy! These heroes go to the enemy stronghold, where old crusty hero is slain by villain who once was close to them, in order for our hero to complete the hero’s journey!)
    the more i read, the more i get the impression that TPTB are treating the franchise like fanboys, and essentially making these films as “remember what you loved about the originals? here’s more of that!”

    The truth is fanboy hopes and dreams often make for terrible films. i dont want star wars to be in the hands of “fans” like Lucasfilm keeps saying. I want it to be in the hands of professionals who can blend the mythology of the prequels/EU with the awesomeness of the originals.

    Having said that, i havent seen these films, its just the vibe im getting. I hope and pray im wrong.

    • May 8, 2015 at 11:28 am

      “The truth is fanboy hopes and dreams often make for terrible films. (…) I want it to be in the hands of professionals”

      Well, guess what? You are actually a fanboy with fanboy hopes and dreams.

      Abrams is a professional fanboy. I’d rather trust him.

    • May 8, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      So you’re saying that you’d rather have someone who is unfamiliar with the franchise direct new movies? A lot of the directors working today will tell you that they fell in love with movies or movie making because of Star Wars. They understand what makes Star Wars special. That would make every single one of them fanboys. But you are saying that you’d rather have someone with none of that tell the next story because they would somehow know how to make a Star Wars movie better? I’ll take the fanboy over someone who has had no emotional effect by Star Wars in their life. And you label JJ as a fanboy as if that’s all he is. As if he isn’t a professional movie maker. As if he’s a kid with a camera.

      Sure I can think of a few movies where a fan was behind the camera and the movie was crap. I can think of even more films where someone was heins the camera who didn’t understand a thing about the property and the movie was crap. But look at all of the Marvel films that they’ve made starting with iron man. All of those films have been made by fans. The entire company is run by a fan. And I’d say that they have a pretty good track record with creating movies that are true to the spirit of their properties

  • May 12, 2015 at 1:16 am

    JJ is nothing more than a glorified hack. I cannot believe the faith you are putting in the man that helped write Armageddon.

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