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J.J. Abrams On Keeping Star Wars: Episode VII’s Secrets

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AbramsThis spring, J.J. Abrams and team will pack up their gear and move to London to begin production on Star Wars: Episode VII. Abrams is notorious for his “mystery box” brand of storytelling, with his films focusing on secrets such as the Rabbit’s Foot from Mission: Impossible III, the monster from Super 8, and Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness. Now that he’s taking over the Star Wars universe, so there’s no question he’s got a big challenge ahead when it comes to keeping the movie’s secrets from leaking out.

Last year, Abrams received a lot of criticism over keeping Benedict Cumberbatch’s identity a secret during the production and press tour for Star Trek Into Darkness. It got to the point where he flat out lied. After the film was released, Khan’s reveal didn’t add up to much, making all the secrecy seem kind of pointless. In a new interview with the Telegraph, Abrams says he regrets how they handled the Cumberbatch/Khan issue. He said:

We were trying to preserve the unexpected for the audience, but it came across as if we were trying to be too clever.

Star Wars is in every way a different animal. It’s always been a more open, fan-engaged universe than I’ve been used to, so I’m sure there’ll be some sort of compromise. But it feels to me like there’s a purity in not knowing every little thing.

While it’s hard to stay pure in the Internet age, Into Darkness didn’t fail because people figured out that Cumberbatch was Khan. Abrams mentions the pitfalls of the digital age. Apparently, the sci-fi geek is, ironically, very old fashioned when it comes to technology and is more drawn to a typewriter than anything else. “I do think there’s something about the digital age that is increasingly dehumanising us. We’re in this very weird place where we’re being pulled into experiences that aren’t really experiences at all,” says the 47-year-old director.

As for Star Wars, Abrams has completed the new script with co-screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. Interestingly, the people at Bad Robot went on some extreme lengths to keep Episode VII under wraps for the time being. “I’m working on the Star Wars script today and the people in my office have covered up all my windows with black paper. I guess they wanted to make sure no one could see what I was doing,” Abrams admits.

It looks like past failures will lead Abrams to do things differently on Episode VII. It also seems that Star Wars fans are even more cutthroat than Star Trek fans, which is why he’s having a change of heart when it comes to secrecy.

Meanwhile, recent rumors suggest that Lucasfilms’ new animated series Star Wars: Rebels will be directly connected to Episode VII. Furthermore, Star Wars expanded universe fan-favorite Mara Jade is rumored to be introduced in Rebels, and would appear, in the flesh, in Episode VII. Mara Jade was a former Sith Apprentice who later became a Jedi Master and mother of Luke Skywalker’s son Ben.

It’s also rumored that Dame Judi Dench could be cast to play an older Mon Mothma. Originally, Caroline Blakiston played the character who coordinated the attack on the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi. Carrie Fisher also revealed that the film will go into production sometime in March or April at Pinewood Studios in England. Fisher will report to the studio with her Star Wars co-stars Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford.

Star Wars: Episode VII hits theaters everywhere on December 18, 2015.

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