Despite it going onto become one of the most successful movies of all time, Star Wars: The Force Awakens had the seemingly near impossible task of completely re-invigorating the franchise, and there was one man in charge of making it happen. J.J. Abrams did a fine job with the film and for the most part, it seems like everyone is happy he was the one directing Episode VII. Though, as it turns out, it took some convincing on the part of Steven Spielberg to get him to do it.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Steven Spielberg told the whole story on how he managed to get Abrams to take on the gig. As it turns out, Abrams was totally into the idea as soon as Spielberg brought it up, but his wife was the one who didn't want him taking on another big franchise, and Kathleen Kennedy didn't feel like he would want to do another one either. Here is what Spielberg had to say.
"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.'"
Kennedy had a very valid point, as Abrams put the Mission Impossible franchise back on track with Mission Impossible III as his first feature film in the director's chair, which led to Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation, both of which have been incredibly well received. And of course, J.J. Abrams directed the first two installments of the latest Star Trek reboot, which has also been massively successful. It is understandable that Kennedy would figure that he wouldn't want to do it and that Abrams' wife wouldn't want him to tackle anything so large again. But Spielberg managed to get the job done.
"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."
Though Spielberg is a man that fans have wanted to direct a Star Wars movie ever since the inception of the franchise, it is interesting to know that he had such a big role in getting Star Wars back on course from behind the scenes. He and Kennedy have been working together for years and Abrams and he worked very closely together on Super 8, so he had the relationships in place to make it happen. Even though Spielberg didn't direct The Force Awakens, Abrams was about as great of a choice as there was given the task at hand. Granted, some could argue that he played it a little safe, but that is what Disney needed in order to get the masses back on board, and it is hard to imagine any other director could have pulled it off in the same way.
Most people seem to love, or at least like The Force Awakens, some have said they would have liked something a little more original. Though, the film did set up the franchise for years to come and went on to become the highest grossing domestic film of all time by a landslide and the third highest grossing film of all time worldwide. So even though it was Abrams who pulled it off, we ultimately have Spielberg to thank for it, which is kind of cool.