JJ Abrams Reveals How He Kept Star Wars: The Force Awakens Grounded with Physical Effects

Tuesday, 01 September 2015 - 11:38AM
Star Wars
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Tuesday, 01 September 2015 - 11:38AM
JJ Abrams Reveals How He Kept Star Wars: The Force Awakens Grounded with Physical Effects
Ask just about any Star Wars fan over a certain age what they wanted to see from the new Star Wars movie, and the chances are you'll get a lengthy answer containing an impassioned argument about how physical effects are key to the Star Wars universe. As we all know, JJ Abrams is a huge fan of the galaxy far far away, and in a new interview he's revealed the pressures that come with continuing George Lucas's legacy and reaffirmed his commitment to building a more real and physical galaxy for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. 

From his very first appearance on the Star Wars set in that Force for Change video, right through to the leaked images from the production's various sets, it's been clear that Abrams wanted to take the Star Wars franchise back to its roots while adding the modern technological flourishes that are so necessary to make a sci-fi movie come to life.

Opening quote
I can't think of something that we did that doesn't look and feel more authentic that I wish we had done differently. Wherever possible, whenever possible, we tried to do things as much in camera as we could. And that meant that a lot of artists on that side of things were building things not with pixels but with wood and paint and foam and actually constructing sets that we could have done in post. It gave the actors the actual location, the actual sunlight or stage light something to bounce off of, and the movie a feeling of being in an actual location and not an artificial one.
Closing quote

Abrams's sentiments will certainly feel like music to the ears of many fans, but as the director revealed earlier in the same interview, he's been feeling the weight of expectation with this movie for quite some time now. That expectation doesn't necessarily all come from other fans though, because Abrams has been urging himself to create the movie that he knows, as a Star Wars fan, the franchise deserves.

Opening quote
It is on the one hand incredibly and understandably stressful because you've got the anticipation and expectation that comes with this world that George created. And on the other hand, it's something that I would never complain about or look at as a negative because it is excitement and anticipation and passion for this world that got me excited not just to be involved with this movie but be involved with moviemaking.
Closing quote

Much of that sense of expectation will surely have come from working with the stars of those movies that he grew up so in awe of. Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford are all returning to the franchise after a decades-long absence. Abrams said that seeing those original stars return, especially Harrison Ford, was impressive not just because of the characters they represent, but because of how easily they sunk back into their roles.

Opening quote
What was incredible from my point of view was how apparently easily they flipped back into these roles. I knew for a fact, for example, that Harrison Ford was going to be in this movie, but I couldn't be certain that Han Solo would be. Meaning, I hadn't seen Han Solo return after nearly 40 years, either. And it wasn't until we got on set that I got my answer. It was a remarkable thing to see how effortlessly Harrison Ford became Han Solo again.
Closing quote

But Star Wars: The Force Awakens is as much about a new generation of characters emerging to inspire a whole new generation of fans. With Force Friday coming this week and the release of Abrams movie just a matter of months away, there's a sense among the established Star Wars fandom that the franchise is being taken into a whole new, exciting era. 60,000 people were in attendance at the sell-out Star Wars Celebration event in Anaheim this year, while trailers for The Force Awakens have broken records for the number of times they have been viewed. This huge level of buzz, coupled with the success Disney and LucasFilm have had in keeping key plot points a secret, has led to many box office analysts predicting that Star Wars: The Force Awakens could become one of the biggest, if not the biggest, movies of all time. If that turns out to be the case, you can't help but think that having a fan like Abrams in charge of it all made all the difference.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is released in theaters on December 18th
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Star Wars: The Force Awakens