How 'Star Wars' Lured J.J. Abrams

If this new Hollywood Reporter profile is to be believed, it all had to do with the "furious negotiation" of one woman.

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The news that J.J. Abrams would be helming the Star Wars reboot came as a surprise to some of the many people who had been following the director-hunt since Disney upended the fanboy world with its purchase of LucasFilm late last year. Abrams had definitively said he wasn't doing the project, and then news came that he would. So how did Star Wars land the Star Trek director? If this new Hollywood Reporter profile is to be believed, it all had to do with the "furious negotiation" of one woman: LucasFilm co-chairman and longtime blockbuster producer Kathleen Kennedy. Reports of J.J. Abrams saying that he wouldn't direct the film, even though he had had early meetings with Kennedy, came around Christmastime. In the new profile, it is revealed that Abrams met with Kennedy on December 14 at his Bad Robot offices, Kim Masters reports. Kennedy, who's produced everything from Indiana Jones to most of the Steven Spielberg oeuvre, came in with a pitch she summarized as: "Please do Star Wars." Also helping: Oscar winner Michael Arndt was on board as a writer, and Lawrence Kasdan, who had written The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, was ready as a consultant and writer of the later episodes. Abrams was "flipping out" upon hearing that news.

Kennedy and Abrams met again, in secret, for three hours on December 19.

 "J.J. was just on the ceiling when I walked out the door," she recalls. But still, she says, Abrams had "very genuine concerns" about his obligations elsewhere and the impact on his wife and three kids, given the likelihood that the film would not be shot in Los Angeles. And then there was the unique nature of the franchise. "If there was any pause on J.J.'s part, it was the same pause everybody has -- including myself -- stepping into this," she says. "Which is, it's daunting."

But then, as Masters writes, "Kennedy had to do what she does so well: put one of the industry's most prominent directors at ease." Ultimately the deal was closed after "a day of furious negotiation" on January 25.

And that's how J.J. Abrams directing Star Wars apparently came to be. Read the rest of the profile at The Hollywood Reporter.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.