J.J. Abrams Talks Directing Star Trek, His Career and Fans
Reported by Outsiders - 09:35 PM 2009.12.11
Director J.J. Abrams boldly went where only a few have dreamed about and remade "Star Trek" into a $383 million dollar worldwide sensation with a nod into the best picture category award. THR recently spoke to J.J. Abrams to see what the Director himself thinks about the success of the movie and the how it has affected him and his career?
The Hollywood Reporter: Was there any part of making "Star Trek" that felt personal?
J.J. Abrams: Quite a bit. It's a story about family and friendship and loyalty and finding your place and your way and being insecure about any number of things. And that is a universal idea that doesn't need to take place in space; it can take place anywhere -- and that idea feels very personal. I found myself surprisingly connected to a character called James T. Kirk. I found myself loving a character whose name was Spock. And as someone who was never really a "Star Trek" fan and who never really connected with any of the characters, it was the last thing in the world I ever expected.
THR: The movie has been embraced by geek culture. How do you feel about the rise of that?
Abrams: If you look back, there's always been a certain level of fantasy, science fiction, horror. The only litmus test that I ever have is: Is the thing that we're working on the thing I want to go see? It's always just about trying to work on the stuff that you feel like you yourself would go out and go see. If you start trying to anticipate what an audience is going to like and not like, you're probably in trouble.
THR: How do you see your relationship with fans?
Abrams: I am obviously indebted to them. The great thing about getting a consensus because of the Internet is it allows you to really hear what the audience is feeling. It's a wonderful tool to understand what's working and what's not working. Because I do try and work on the kinds of projects that I want to go see, I don't feel like my audience is any different from my friends or myself -- I feel like I am those people.
THR: You like to meet with random people who interest you. What's the impulse there?
Abrams: It's just people who have inspired me over time. Probably the greatest perk of the job is being able to make contact with people who were your heroes in some form or another. There's no agenda other than wanting to hear their story and try to glean from it what you can.
THR: Have you ever pulled anything concrete from those meetings that has made its way into your work?
Abrams: It really is just about trying to personalize the inspiration. When there's someone whose music you love or whose paintings you love or whose writing you love or whose acting you love -- when you meet with them, you discover that you actually know them better than you even thought. I've done this for a long time. I was a kid and I was sending letters to people like Dick Smith, the makeup artist. I have letters from various people, mostly in film, whose work I loved as a kid. Whether it's cartoonists or composers or astronauts or synthesizer builders, I have been able to contact these people and benefit from just hearing them share their experiences. You can always find some analogy in what someone else goes through -- whether it's just the pure insecurity of what they were doing and uncertainty as to what would result that you take to heart and is comforting, or the reminder that these people were up against all sorts of obstacles, political or social or cultural or monetary, and you see that these people simply didn't give up and overcame whatever their challenges were.