Ever since it was announced that the “Star Wars” franchise would get a new, non-prequel installment for the first time since 1983 with "The Force Awakens," all eyes have been on director J.J. Abrams to see if he'll miss the mark. Now, with the film a little more than a month away, he is teasing some key details about the story that have reassured fans that the franchise is in safe hands once again.
In an excerpt from the December issue of Wired Magazine, the famed director opens up about a great many things, including how he plans to make Episode 7 a self-contained story that lends itself to other directors, mostly Episode 8 helmsman Rain Johnson, to step in and expand. In addition, Abrams explains the challenges he faced in bringing some of the original cast back into the fold in the 2015 movie. As previously reported, original trilogy characters Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) will all be returning to the franchise to help establish new characters and link the latest films to the old.
According to the director, the hardest part wasn’t necessarily bringing someone like Han Solo back to the screen; it was figuring out how the character would have reasonably changed over the course of some 40 years off-camera. He likens it to the moment when one sees an old friend and immediately notices things like age wrinkles or scars that denote time and life have passed.
“It was important that Han Solo be Han Solo but not feel like he’s playing a 30-year-old dude. When you’re 70, you will have lived a different set of experiences. That has to be apparent in who he is," he says. "Harrison was required to bring a level of complexity that a 30-year-old Han wouldn’t be required to have.”’
The director goes on to explain that the film is loaded with other cosmetic changes that were simply his way of showing that he’s not simply rehashing visuals from the old movies for nostalgia’s sake. For example, fans at Hitfix noticed the trademark round dish on Solo’s iconic ship, the Millennium Falcon, has been changed to a rectangular shape. The director notes that this was an effort to separate his movie from the others in a quick aesthetic way.
Luckily for the 49-year-old director, he's got some experience adapting fan-beloved franchises. His 2009 reboot of "Star Trek" received great reviews, which likely played a huge part in his ability to land "Star Wars." Fortunately, it seems as though the director was given the amount of creative freedom he needed to make “The Force Awakens” the open-and-shut plotline he wanted. Unfortunately, despite the cavalcade of new teasers that have come out in November, the director’s best secrets are being kept for the finished product, which hits theaters Dec. 18.