While the career of J.J. Abrams continues to go from strength to strength, his CV expanding as fast as his bank balance, it’s an impossible mission to extricate his reputation from Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, the movie brats who influenced him. Indeed, Abrams has not only made sequels to Lucas’ signature series with The Force Awakens and Episode IX, but he successfully aped the classic Spielberg style with Super 8. Abrams' story started with Spielberg, tracked here by editor Brent Dunham as he brings together interviews reaching from as far back as 1982 to the present day.
Famously, Abrams was brought in as a young filmmaker to clean up Spielberg’s own childhood movies, and in the first interview we learn that Abrams not only idolised Spielberg but also John Carpenter. Interviewed alongside childhood friend Matt Reeves of Planet of the Apes and Cloverfield fame, it’s clear that Abrams was destined for the big time.
Dunham follows a chronology of interviews as J.J.’s career blossoms. In 2002 he is discussing the Superman script he wrote, due to star Brendan Fraser as the Man of Steel. By 2004 he was launching Lost, the TV show which cemented his reputation after the success of Felicity and Alias. 2006 saw him take on an existing franchise for the first time with Mission Impossible III, which led to Star Trek in 2009. Hard to believe that giving him the chair on MI:III felt like a risk. By the time Star Trek was released, his reputation was set and - Star Trek Into Darkness aside (great box office, lacklustre film) - his ascent has been a smooth one.
His CV is expansive, covering TV and film, but almost as impressive is the list of projects he has been involved with that never came to fruition. A script for the Who Framed Roger Rabbit sequel with Spielberg, the aforementioned Superman film, his involvement in a company called Propellerheads who did early animation tests for what would become Shrek... His involvement in the inner sanctum of Hollywood reaches back to the late 80’s, impressive for a man who is only 53 years old. And his involvement goes far beyond simply directing. Other credits include Executive Producer, Composer, Sound, Screenplay, Co-Producer, Actor and Creator. For a man of such prodigious talent, don’t be surprised if this book is updated and expanded by Dunham in a handful of years to cover his next wave of film and TV projects. Studios are offering vast riches to land Abrams and give him a permanent home. With the scope to create his own mega franchise and a cash rich studio behind him, the sky's the limit.
J.J. ABRAMS INTERVIEWS / EDITOR: BRETT DUNHAM / PUBLISHER: UNIVERSITY PRESS OF MISSISSIPPI / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW