J.J. Abrams Explains Why He's Leaving 'Star Wars'

by Michelle Lulic

If you're like me, you absolutely loved Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens. But now, as we approach new Disney-helmed Star Wars endeavors, I'm starting to get worried. Because we now all know that J.J. Abrams can do an incredible job directing the franchise, but Abrams is leaving the Star Wars directing gig behind for new projects of his own and just sticking to executive producing Episode VIII and Episode IX. While I'm sure future directors will do a great job directing the new movies — and I understand the desire to work on separate projects — I'm seriously hoping there's a way Abrams will change mind and head back to the director's chair.

“It was a wonderful way to visit a place that meant so much to me and obviously so many,” Abrams says about his Star Wars experience in an interview with Fortune , “I knew that if it worked, it was the perfect time to step down – and if it didn’t, no one would want me to do it anyway.” Well, he did do an amazing job — making his decision to step down devastating.

This is not to say I don't think the next director will be good. Rian Johnson, who directed 2005's Brick and some of the best episodes of Breaking Bad ("Fly," "Fifty-One," and "Ozymandias"), is set to lead the franchise for Episode VIII, and I'm sure he'll do a spectacular job. It's worth noting that even Abrams feels the same way: In the same interview with Fortune, Abrams reassured fans that he is leaving the future of the films in good hands as he himself begins work on the upcoming HBO series Westworld: “I’m very happy to be where I am. Rian Johnson [the next director] is brilliant and needs no help from me. As executive producer, I’ve been collaborating with them, but they are obviously doing all of the heavy lifting and it’s very exciting to see what’s going on.”

That said, like many other Star Wars fans may be, I'm still longing for Abrams to direct more films in the franchise at some point. There was something so amazing about his position within the franchise that proved he was perfect for the job. Even upon reading the new script for Episode VIII, he was still taken by the franchise: According to an interview with actor Greg Grunberg with The Washington Post : "He read it and said something he never, ever says. He said: ‘It’s so good, I wish I were making it.’ He may have said something one time on Lost, with Damon [Lindelof, the co-creator], but I never hear him express regret like that."

So... does this mean there's a chance he might come back?! Unfortunately, his upcoming schedule with the HBO series Westworld, it does seem very unlikely that he will have the time to put in the effort needed to actually direct any more Star Wars films. This, of course, hasn't stopped many fans from taking to Twitter to express their pleas for Abrams to return at some point:

As for now, I will continue to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens as much as my Jedi-lovin' heart desires. And when May 26, 2017 rolls around, I will keep an open mind and allow Johnson to dazzle me just like Abrams did.

Images: Giphy (2)