Star Wars: The Force Awakens is just weeks away from its highly anticipated release. While we still know very little about the film itself, we know that Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac will all return to reprise their roles as Rey, Finn, and Poe, respectively, in the planned sequels. Director J.J. Abrams recently talked about how he learned from his past mistakes to perfect the script for the new Star Wars film. Also he revealed that the script for Episode VIII has been completed, and talked what what it was like to build a new Star Wars trilogy in a new interview with Wired.
Building that chemistry between between actors and director is one thing that looks like it will consistently change as the franchise grows. So it was key that Abrams found the right people who would be able to work together throughout these changes. Below, you will see what Abrams had to say about casting the film trilogy, especially when he’s only directing the first installment, and helping Rian Johnson (Looper, The Brothers Bloom), who’s taking over for Episode VIII, with his story while staying true to his vision.
On the casting process,
“We knew we weren’t just casting one movie—we were casting at least three. That, to me, was the biggest challenge. When we met Daisy Ridley, when we found John Boyega, and then Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver came aboard, we got really excited. And yes, Daisy and John could work together, but what happens when Harrison’s in the mix? What will that feel like? If it doesn’t spark, it’s a fucking disaster. Yes, BB-8 is a great character, amazingly puppeteered, but what will happen when he’s suddenly in a scene with C-3P0 or R2-D2? Will it feel bizarre? Will it feel wrong? Somehow it didn’t. When Anthony Daniels told me, “Oh my God, I love BB-8!” I said, “We’re going to be OK.” Because if he’s OK, it’s working.”
Abrams then references the Harry Potter films as an example of casting characters who had to be there not only for one film, but eight.
“When you think about all that these characters go through, not just in this movie but knowing their work would continue, these individuals needed to be worthy bearers of this burden and opportunity to continue to tell the story. I think about the Harry Potter movies—that’s unbelievable that they cast those films the way they did. And for what, eight movies?! That was a miracle. They needed to be able to do everything, and they all killed it.”
So Rian Johnson will be the one to carry the torch after Abrams steps back from it. However, The Force Awakens won’t step out of the Star Wars world completely, as he will be helping Johnson and producer Ram Bergman make the transition to their film easier. He also reveals that the script for Episode VIII has been written, but there will most likely be some rewrites along the way.
“The script for VIII is written. I’m sure rewrites are going to be endless, like they always are. But what [Kasdan] and I did was set up certain key relationships, certain key questions, conflicts. And we knew where certain things were going. We had meetings with Rian and Ram Bergman, the producer of VIII. They were watching dailies when we were shooting our movie. We wanted them to be part of the process, to make the transition to their film as seamless as possible. I showed Rian an early cut of the movie, because I knew he was doing his rewrite and prepping. And as executive producer of VIII, I need that movie to be really good. Withholding serves no one and certainly not the fans. So we’ve been as transparent as possible.”
As for how involved Johnson was, Abrams explains that the Looper director asked questions for his story.
“Rian has asked for a couple of things here and there that he needs for his story. He is an incredibly accomplished filmmaker and an incredibly strong writer. So the story he told took what we were doing and went in the direction that he felt was best but that is very much in line with what we were thinking as well. But you’re right — that will be his movie; he’s going to do it in the way he sees fit. He’s neither asking for nor does he need me to oversee the process.”