Not everybody responded favourably to the announcement that Star Trek director J.J. Abrams would be jumping over to rival franchise Star Wars for the next installment in that series. (William Shatner called him a “pig,” only half-jokingly.) In a recent interview with Playboy, Abrams discussed this space rivalry—and offered a reasonable defense of his decision to oversee both franchises. He explains that he suffered through many daunting technical challenges while shooting space sequences in Star Trek, challenges he has since conquered. Aside from George Lucas, few modern directors have more experience shooting movies in space than Abrams.
Abrams also acknowledges the massive differences between the franchises, explaining that this is part of the reason he originally turned down the Star Wars offer. At that time, he was in the midst of post-production on Star Trek Into Darkness and couldn’t imagine working on another daunting sci-fi epic, but once the smoke started to clear, he became intrigued by the prospect. This was partly the result of a well-timed follow-up call from Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy. “We had a great conversation,” he said. “And the idea of working with her on this suddenly went from being theoretical and easy to deny to being a real, tangible, thrilling possibility.”
As for those who fear that the franchises may start to blur together, Abrams insists that he plans to approach Star Wars very differently. In making the tough decisions that guide him to this new aesthetic, Abrams feels extremely fortunate to have an Obi-Wan Kenobi-style mentor in his corner. “The advantage here is that we still have George Lucas with us to go to and ask questions and get his feedback on things, which I certainly will do.”