Star Wars: Episode IX's J.J. Abrams Nearly Turned Down Director Role

J.J. Abrams Star Wars-Episode IX

Fans were happy to learn in 2017 that J.J. Abrams would return to the Star Wars franchise to direct and co-write Episode IX but, for Abrams, his return very nearly didn't happen at all.

Following original director Colin Trevorrow's departure for creative reasons, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy offered Abrams the chance to return to the story he started with 2015's The Force Awakens. Having emerged from the previous film with his love of the franchise still very much intact, Abrams was hesitant to run the risk of losing his appreciation for Star Wars over the course of the production, especially given its quick turnaround schedule.

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"There was an actual moment when I nearly said, 'No, I’m not going to do this.' I was trepidatious to begin with, getting involved, because I love Star Wars so much and felt like it was...it was almost, on a personal level, a dangerous thing to get too close to something that you care that much about," Abrams admitted in an interview with Fast Company. "I left loving Star Wars as much as I did when I got there. Like, somehow, it was on a personal, selfish level something I was really happy to have done. Not just excited about doing but happy to have done. And to ask to have that happen again, I felt a little bit like I was playing with fire."

Despite his own concerns about returning to the franchise, ultimately, Abrams' trust in Kennedy won him over and she convinced him to return.

"There was a moment when I literally said, 'No,' and Katie said, 'You should do this.' And my first thought was, has she met someone? And then I thought, she’s usually right about stuff," Abrams continued. "When she said it, I think that she felt like it was an opportunity to bring to a close this story that we had begun and had continued, of course. And I could see that even though the last thing on my mind was going away and jumping back into that, especially with the time constraints that we were faced with."

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Directed and co-written by J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: Episode IX stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Keri Russell, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams and Carrie Fisher, with Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant. The film arrives December 20.

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