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   Author  Topic: Interview with JJ Abrams  (Read 559 times)
yesteach
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Interview with JJ Abrams
« on: Jun 6th, 2005, 3:04pm »
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It's an older interview about the show - but some of his answers are interesting - and like everything else connected to this show - it seems the more answers you get, the more questions you have... :confused:
 
http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue387/interview3.html
 
J.J. Abrams made his television debut in 1998 with Felicity, a drama centered around a young girl (played by Keri Russell) who follows her high-school crush to college and finds herself along the way. In its first season on The WB, the show was a critical success and a hit with the network's core audience of young women. But in subsequent seasons, Abrams became frustrated with the limitations of the storylines. He famously mused that if Felicity only had a secret double life as a CIA agent, there would be a lot more story to tell.
 
Thus the idea for Abrams' next show, Alias, was born. Alias stars Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow, a CIA agent whose personal life is often more complicated than her professional one. The show, which returns in January for a fourth season, made a star out of Garner and a bankable commodity out of Abrams.
 
Now, with two hit shows on his resume, Abrams embarks on his third venture into series television. Lost begins with the survivors of a plane crash struggling to make sense of their new environment and find a way off a mysterious island. Its large cast includes Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Terry O'Quinn and Dominic Monaghan. The pilot episode airs Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Abrams recently spoke with Science Fiction Weekly about his new show and the mysteries that will unfold over the course of the season.
---
This show pretty much defies categorization. What genre would you say it fits in?
 
Abrams: My favorite thing about the show and about the island is it isn't one thing. It isn't one thing. The island is one thing, but what has happened there over time cannot be explained.
---
Do you know what the mystery of the island is?
 
Abrams: We know a lot of what's going to happen, but as you go it starts to sort of become clear what it needs to be. You have to respect it as much as you want it to respect you. I swear to God, I know it sounds nuts, but it's sort of this relationship you have between this living, breathing story and the creative intent to make it. And you kind of have to have a dialogue with it.
---
Will you be providing clues as the story unfolds?
 
Abrams: There's a lot of things that are so subtextual. Like, if you're watching a scene, you'd never know that that's going to mean something. We do that because when you talk about stuff and it becomes deeper, through osmosis, scenes that are about one thing or two or three things can become about a dozen different things.
 
For example, if you're watching episode five and you see the story that we're telling, you can look back and go, "Oh, that's why that character had that attitude." You know what I mean? The monster, for example, when we start to get into sort of what that is, my goal is that you feel like that's what was happening, rather than it being arbitrary.
---
On Alias you have the recurring number 47. Are you doing anything like that on the show?
 
Abrams: Did you notice it in this show too? With the pilot?
---
Speaking of the pilot, I noticed you cast your longtime friend Greg Grunberg, who also appeared in Felicity and Alias, in a cameo role for this.
 
Abrams: I know. He insists on being in everything I do, so I can't say no to him.
---
This show has a very large cast. How do you plan to balance all of the characters?
 
Abrams: Well, everyone is in every show, but there will be a specific [leads]. Jack and Charlie and Kate [played by Matthew Fox, Dominic Monaghan and Evangeline Lilly] will somehow be in the center of most episodes. But what we're doing is, we're allowing it to focus on a character every episode. So you're really going to get to see who someone is in terms of the flashbacks. We're not going to do episodes where we'll have flashbacks of four or five different people in the episode. It would be too confusing.
---
Do the actors know what their stories will be?
 
Abrams: Some know, some don't. Very purposefully. ... Like, for example, there's a scene where [Josh Holloway's] character, Sawyer, is reading this note, but you have no idea what it is when you're watching it. We know what it is, and we talked to him, and that informs other stuff.
---
Probably the most mysterious character in the pilot is the one played by Terry O'Quinn. Can you talk about his story?
 
Abrams: Wait until you see where his character goes. I just read the fourth hour of the script, and that was better than the pitch. It's an amazing thing. And he's sort of at the center of it. He's incredible. I'm so happy for Terry O'Quinn to finally get a role where he can do all these different things. I never gave him much more than sort of being the official guy on Alias. And he's done amazing work before that, but I'm so happy to work with him in a way that's multi-layered.
---
The cast as a whole is also very diverse. Was it intentional to have different cultures and races represented?
 
Abrams: Here's the thing. If you have a plane crash and it's 100 percent any one race, you're going to be like, "It's an international flight and they're all white?" But we didn't go, "OK, we have to Benneton the show, and this guy's got to be black, this guy's got to be Middle Eastern." It just became what it is.
 
As we were working on it, these actors that we met and these characters that we were coming up with sort of demanded that they be not just guest stars. For example, Emilie de Ravin in the pilot is a guest star, but we were like, "No. She's so good and she's so bright and so sweet." We were like, "OK, we've got to bring her on as a regular." Yunjin [Kim] and Daniel [Kim] were initially going to be recurring. We were like, "No, they're too good." So it's a weird thing. But the cast aside, it's not like there weren't practical realities we had to consider. It was sort of like we said, "This is what has to happen." We can't say there's this pregnant woman and then never see her. I'm watching to see what happens to her.
---
Were there other people on the plane that we'll get to see in flashbacks?
 
Abrams: Oh, sure. Oh, definitely. We actually had that in the pilot. I mean, we cut so much from the pilot we're going to do later. But that's one of the things we're going to show.
---
Are there other people on the island that we'll see eventually?
 
Abrams: There could be.
---
Are you going to explain how the plane crashed?
 
Abrams: It's one of the things we're talking about that hasn't become a sort of headline for us, although it's certainly a question the characters are asking themselves.
---
Will they ever find out?
 
Abrams: My guess is that they will. But that's not a story that we've parsed out yet.
---
The crashed plane on the beach is a constantly looming reminder of the crash in the pilot episode. How was that done?
 
Abrams: It's insane what they did. When we started writing it, they found an L-1011. They bought it. It's a 777 in the story. But we found an L-1011. Just bought it, took it apart, cut it into 25 pieces, barged it—and we have this on film—from California to Hawaii. Put it back together again there, and built it. That whole thing was all there.
---
So is that going to be a permanent set piece?
 
Abrams: Yeah. We were shooting one day and the tide came up so high, higher than it had ever been, and it started washing out a tonnage of metal and they had to bring in the middle of the night these huge frames and huge pieces. And we shot it that day. I mean, it was insane doing this show. And no one got hurt. There were all these huge pieces of real, jagged metal. It was nuts.
---
The show has such high production values, is it going to be difficult to keep that up week after week?
 
Abrams: The pilot was more expensive, certainly. Honestly, most of it was the plane. It was hugely expensive to get this plane over there. There was no other way to do it. Though it's not a cheap show, there are a lot of shows that are more expensive than this show.
 
Everyone who saw the Alias pilot said, "You're never going to be able to do this every week." And we're going into our fourth season, and every week we've sort of done a version of that. Now, I think we've outdone ourselves a lot of times on episodes. There's some that don't work as well, obviously. But I've never felt like wow, the pilot worked one way and the show is another thing. To me, it was like it kept up a certain sort of quality. And I expect to do the same on Lost.
---
Do you have a long-term plan for the show?
 
Abrams: What we have right now is a really great end of year one and a really great end of year two. Now, whether that ends up happening is anyone's guess. If we're lucky enough to keep going, the end of year two might not happen until year five. It might happen the first episode of year two. Who knows? But we have an idea. I always say it's like driving in the fog, where you can vaguely make out where you're going, the shape of the place. And you're heading there. But you're going to find roads you never saw or thought you'd take. In fact, the closer you get, you might realize, oh, that wasn't it at all. I'm going there. You have to have a direction.
---
Do you have a final ending already in mind?
 
Abrams: The great thing is this: The ending of the series, it's either whoever's there gets off, or they've accepted where they are, or they die. Those are the three possible endings. And I feel like each of them could be done in a satisfying way, like, "Oh my God." So I'm not worried about ending the story. But I would hate to take people though a journey and at the end of the day not have some kind of deep, emotional satisfaction. So I'm very optimistic about the long term, but I'm only optimistic about that because I feel like the short term is working as well as it is.
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