JJ Abrams: Star Wars a 'once in a lifetime opportunity'

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"I was never a Star Trek fan as a kid" - JJ Abrams, director of Star Trek Into the Darkness

Film-maker JJ Abrams has said the offer to direct the upcoming new Star Wars movie was a "once in a lifetime opportunity" he could not resist.

But the Star Trek director admitted he "absolutely" worries about being seen as a man who "reboots" franchises.

"It was one of the main reasons I initially said no to Star Wars," he told the BBC's Will Gompertz. "I thought, 'I can't be that guy.'"

Abrams' latest film, Star Trek Into Darkness, is released on 9 May.

He was also in charge of the previous Trek instalment in 2009.

Before directing Mission: Impossible III in 2006, Abrams wrote and produced such hit TV shows as Alias and Lost.

In 2011 he directed Super 8, a sci-fi fantasy thriller that he co-produced with Steven Spielberg.

Abrams, who is in Britain to promote Star Trek Into Darkness, said he had planned to follow it with something in a more modest vein.

"There's a story that we are working on that's a small comedy drama, that I assumed would be the next movie I was going to direct.

"And then Star Wars came along. It was one of those things where Star Wars felt like one of those once in a lifetime opportunities that forced me to stop and reconsider whatever the rulebook was."

The director said he does not have a strategy about which films to take on, responding instead to projects that "feel - in my gut - like something special".

But the 46-year-old admitted he is aware of the dangers of becoming too associated with big film franchises.

"I do feel at a certain point, if I take on one more, it's over," he said. "I already felt that way with Mission: Impossible, then with Star Trek."

Abrams, who also worked on the script for 1998 film Armageddon, said that if he had to choose whether to work on TV or film, he would pick the former because "there are more risks being taken".

Television, he continued, presents "opportunities for nuance and scenes that in a film would never make the final cut, because there's no room".

Star Wars 'geek'

"If you look at actors on TV today it's insane how good the performances are," he went on. "Some of the best writing I've seen exists in television.

"So for me, the stuff I've been most excited about recently has been coming from television, both in the UK and the States.

"But it's a close one because movies were always - for me as a kid - the thing.

"I am hoping studios will begin to see what's happening in TV, take advantage of that technology, and make more films that are not based on pre-existing franchises."

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Abrams, pictured with members of the Star Trek cast, said he hoped to make "authentic" films

A self-confessed Star Wars fan, Abrams said he would have to try to mitigate his "geeky fan-boy" feelings about his forthcoming project.

"It's just about about approaching it from as authentic a place as possible, and not trying to apply what you believe or think, as much as trying to filter everything and get at it from the core of the characters.

"[It should be] what you deeply want to see, never what you assume the fans might like."

Despite working on Star Trek and Star Wars concurrently, Abrams said he was not concerned that the two films might have a similar feel.

"To me they are such wildly disparate universes - the back story, the tone, the mood, certainly the history [and] the characters - that I'm in no way worried."

Star Trek Into Darkness has its UK premiere in central London on 2 May.

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