Greg Grunberg played Snap Wexley in The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker, and the childhood friend of J.J. Abrams spoke at length with The Hollywood Reporter about his Star Wars experience, setting the record straight regarding rumors of an unreleased “J.J. Abrams cut” of The Rise of Skywalker and an alleged rift between Abrams and The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson.
The interview with THR touched on Grunberg’s experience being part of the saga, but I wanted to focus on two aspects that have run rampant online via rumors, conspiracies, and false information. The first being the conspiracy that there is a “J.J. Cut” floating around, an extended version of the film that was Abrams’ true vision (see Zack Snyder Justice League) that was overruled by Disney. Grunberg, who speaks to Abrams almost daily, says he never heard anything of the sort and that Abrams had the final word as Disney and Lucasfilm trusted him fully, especially after the massive success and love surrounding The Force Awakens.
THR: Dom (Dominic Monaghan) told me that there was “so much stuff” that didn’t make it into the movie. Even though every movie has more footage than what ends up on the screen, that interview — as well as some anonymous social media posts — helped perpetuate a hashtag known as “#ReleaseTheJJCut.” Can you help dispel this wild notion?
GRUNBERG: Yeah, I never understood that. I talked to J.J. as friends throughout the entire process. Every night, I’d be like, “How’s it going?” Every time, he was so positive. I’m being completely honest here, but not once did he ever tell me that there was any pressure on him to cut things out. It’s part of the creative process, obviously. Kathy Kennedy is brilliant; the people at Disney are brilliant. They give notes, but ultimately, it’s up to J.J., the director, who they really trust. Personally, I don’t think there’s any truth to that, and I would be surprised if there’s a “J.J. cut.” Every movie goes through a series of cuts; it’s just the nature of it. You see what works, what you need more of and where you need clarity. So, I think that’s all a part of the creative process. I don’t buy into it at all.
The second part is the rumor that J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson hate each other and were feuding, leading to Abrams “undoing” Rian’s story, which by interpretation is in the eye of the beholder of course. I personally feel Episode IX expanded upon the biggest elements that Rian added to the saga, but that’s just my humble opinion. Grunberg makes it clear that Abrams respects and admires Johnson’s work and never said a bad thing about him, leading to co-writer Chris Terrio, Grunberg, and others being quite confused when rumblings started online about some sort of rift or feud between the two.
THR: When I spoke to Chris Terrio, he was so flabbergasted by the media and fan base’s insistence on pitting J.J. against Rian. Were you surprised by that narrative as well, especially since you first relayed how much J.J. loved Rian’s script for Episode VIII?
GRUNBERG: Yeah, I was shocked. This is part of Star Wars, which is finding conflict. People are going to make things up. I never heard one disparaging thing from J.J. about Rian. Rian is a brilliant storyteller and filmmaker. It’s one of those things where if you pay attention to the film and engage with it, all it does is keep that story going. But, I’m glad you’re asking me because I would absolutely tell you if there were moments here and there. And there weren’t. There just absolutely weren’t. If anybody was going to try and dig that out of J.J., it’d be me. I wanted to work with Rian so badly, and it just didn’t happen. So, I would be looking for any reason to go, “Oh yeah, well,” but J.J. loves that guy. He loves how creative and how brilliant he is.
So there you have it. I am sure many will still choose to not believe this, and that’s their right to do so, even though it’s coming from someone involved with the films. But we can only rest on facts and accounts from those close to the situation if we want to get as close to the truth as possible. The fact is that a lot of these conspiracies and feuds are drummed up by fans online on forums and social media to support agenda-based narratives however they see fit, and it’s startling how often things like this blow up and take off. Could the sequel trilogy have had a more cohesive connectivity throughout its production? Yes, I completely agree with that. But that doesn’t mean that directors were purposely undoing each other’s work or feuding and hating one another. Let’s not forget that Abrams switched out BB-8 for R2-D2 in The Force Awakens at Rian Johnson’s request, Abrams served as executive producer of The Last Jedi, and Rian Johnson added the meeting between Rey and Poe at the end of The Last Jedi at Colin Trevorrow’s request, as he was going to explore a romance between the two, which Abrams eventually did not pursue once he took over Episode IX.
Sometimes seeing is believing and I have caught myself reading something and my brain immediately wanting to process it as truth. But if we want the truth we need to always be skeptical, especially based on where the information comes from, always dig a little deeper, and always ask questions. We know unfounded rumors and conspiracies about Star Wars did not start with, nor will they end with the sequel trilogy, but we can always do our best to seek the truth.
There is no “JJ cut” and there is no feud between J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson. We can put both of these conspiracies/rumors to rest and move on to the inevitable and seemingly unavoidable next ones.
SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter