J.J. Abrams explains why he won’t be directing Star Wars: Episode VII

J.J. Abrams

On October 30 it was announced that George Lucas had sold Lucasfilm to the massive Disney corporation. That was huge news in and of itself, but there was a second related bit of info that inspired the online masses to gasp in shock and tentative excitment: Disney had decided to waste no time in exploiting its new film rights and would be pushing Star Wars: Episode VII into production immediately.

While the worldwide geek collective has yet to decide whether or not this is good news, we’ve instead turned our attentions to sussing out and debating the pros and cons of potential directors for the movie. One of the biggest, most talked about names on this list has always been J.J. Abrams, an auteur who has long been a favorite among fans of genre fare, both for his work on clever television shows like Lost and for his unexpectedly excellent reboot of Paramount’s Star Trek franchise with 2009’s film of the same name. Unfortunately, a newly-published piece in Empire magazine (via The Hollywood Reporter) explains why Abrams won’t be seated in the director’s chair when Star Wars: Episode VII hits theaters in 2015.

“There were the very early conversations [with Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy] and I quickly said that, because of my loyalty to Star Trek and also just being a fan, I wouldn’t even want to be involved in the next version of those things,” Abrams said. “I declined any involvement very early on. I’d rather be in the audience not knowing what was coming, rather than being involved in the minutiae of making them.”

Abrams claims that while he was a much bigger Star Wars fan growing up than he was a Star Trek fan, it’s exactly this apathy that makes him a perfect director for the latter franchise. He holds the events of the previous Star Wars films to be sacrosanct, thus making it much more difficult to effectively reboot the series without the direct involvement of George Lucas. Star Trek however, offers a fictional universe in which he’s perfectly comfortable with taking the kinds of creative risks that made his 2009 film such a success.

Obviously this comes as sad news for fans hoping to see the trademark Abrams style applied to the Star Wars universe, but it does allow the masses to continue their ongoing online argument over who should helm the film. At this point we’ve almost entirely exhausted the selection of big-name directors likely to be tied to Star Wars purely by virtue of their prior work in the sci-fi genre, so it looks increasingly as if Star Wars: Episode VII will be made by a lesser-known auteur. That greatly expands the number of potential candidates, so until Disney/Lucasfilm offers up solid info on the director’s identity, arguments over who it might be will continue to rage unabated.