We all expected the first Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer to incite a great deal of conversation when it dropped just after Thanksgiving, but a lot of people were surprised by just how much people focused that new lightsaber. The uproar certainly surprised director J.J. Abrams, and the notoriously tightlipped filmmaker recently opened up on that topic, as well as others, like practical effects, future Episode movies, and more.
Collider caught up with Abrams on the red carpet for Visual Effects Society Awards, where he received their Visionary Award. Though he is for being secretive about his films, the Star Trek director did talk a little bit about the lightsaber controversy, and shared a few more pieces about the film.
Talking cross-shaped Jedi weapons, he said:
I will say that what’s been funny is, since the lightsaber’s come out, I cannot tell you how many contradictory emails I have received from people who have both defended it with unbelievably detailed graphics…I’ve gotten things that are nuts, and I’ve gotten people who’ve shown how it’ll kill you and how it doesn’t make any sense. It’s been the funniest thing to see the arguments that have developed over this thing. It was a number of conversations. It was a sketch that became a whole thing and, you know, this was not done without a lot of conversation and it’s fun to see people have the conversation that we had, but in reverse.
It’s obvious that there is going to be a fair amount of CGI in The Force Awakens. You can’t get around that side of things when making a big, epic space opera these days. One element that has been encouraging for fans since day one is that while there will be lots of digital effects, Abrams and company have also gone out of their way to do as much practically as they can. We’ve seen a few glimpses of this, and it adds a concrete, visceral feel to the movie that is absent for much of the prequels. Because this is a Visual Effects Society event, the director chimed in on the this side of the production, saying:
There are obviously an enormous amount of CG effects in the film, and I can’t wait for you to see the combination. But it was very important that we build as many sets as we could and that the film have a tangible, sort of authentic quality that you believed that these things were actually happening in a real space with real sunlight, if it was an exterior scene, or if we could build a big portion of a scene and not have anything be blue screen, do it where we could. It was a very important piece of work.
No matter how many times we hear this, it’s always reassuring. There have also been reports that part of The Force Awakens was filmed in IMAX, and Abrams did confirm this, but says, “It’s really one sequence so it’s not a ton, but it’s a good sequence.”
He goes on to confirm that, while Episode VIII is not his baby—Rian Johnson is obviously writing and directing that one and possibly Episode IX—he will be involved, executive producing.
You should really take a moment to check out the whole interview. He talks about how they’re still cutting The Force Awakens, discusses his love of Star Wars, his role in Star Trek 3, and other subjects. There’s nothing too Earth shattering, but considering his usual reluctance to share anything, it’s nice to see, and his obvious enthusiasm shines through.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters December 18.