J. J. Abrams
J. J. Abrams
Abrams in 2015
Jeffrey Jacob Abrams
June 27, 1966
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Education||Palisades Charter High School|
|Alma mater||Sarah Lawrence College|
|Occupation||Film director, producer, screenwriter, composer|
|Home town||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
Katie McGrath (m. 1996)
|Parent(s)||Gerald W. Abrams|
Carol Ann Kelvin
Jeffrey Jacob Abrams (born June 27, 1966) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, actor, and composer. He is best known for his work in the genres of action, drama, and science fiction. Abrams wrote or produced such films as Regarding Henry (1991), Forever Young (1992), Armageddon (1998), Cloverfield (2008), Star Trek (2009), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), and the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX (2019).
Abrams has created numerous television series, including Felicity (co-creator, 1998–2002), Alias (creator, 2001–2006), Lost (co-creator, 2004–2010), and Fringe (co-creator, 2008–2013). He won two Emmy Awards for Lost — Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series and Outstanding Drama Series.
His directorial film work includes Mission: Impossible III (2006), Star Trek (2009), Super 8 (2011), and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). He also directed, produced and co-wrote Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), the first film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy and his highest-grossing film, as well as the third highest-grossing film of all time. He returned to Star Wars by co-writing, producing and directing Episode IX (2019).
Abrams's frequent collaborators include producer Bryan Burk, actors Greg Grunberg, Simon Pegg and Keri Russell, composer Michael Giacchino, writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, cinematographers Daniel Mindel and Larry Fong, and editors Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey.
Abrams was born in New York City and raised in Los Angeles, the son of television producer Gerald W. Abrams (born 1939) and executive producer Carol Ann Abrams (née Kelvin; 1942–2012). His sister is screenwriter Tracy Rosen. He attended Palisades High School. After graduating high school, Abrams planned on going to art school rather than a traditional college, but eventually enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College, following his father's advice: "it's more important that you go off and learn what to make movies about than how to make movies."
Abrams's first job in the movie business started at 15 when he wrote the music for Don Dohler's 1982 horror 'B' movie, Nightbeast. During his senior year at college, he teamed with Jill Mazursky to write a feature film treatment. Purchased by Touchstone Pictures, the treatment was the basis for Taking Care of Business, Abrams's first produced film, which starred Charles Grodin and James Belushi. He followed with Regarding Henry, starring Harrison Ford, and Forever Young, starring Mel Gibson. He also co-wrote with Mazursky the script for the comedy Gone Fishin' starring Joe Pesci and Danny Glover.
In 1994, he was part of the "Propellerheads" with Rob Letterman, Loren Soman, and Andy Waisler, a group of Sarah Lawrence alums experimenting with computer animation technology. They were contracted by Jeffrey Katzenberg to develop animation for the film Shrek. Abrams worked on the screenplay for the 1998 film Armageddon with producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay. That same year, he made his first foray into television with Felicity, which ran for four seasons on The WB Network, serving as the series' co-creator (with Matt Reeves) and executive producer. He also composed its opening theme music.
Under his production company, Bad Robot, which he founded with Bryan Burk in 2001, Abrams created and executive-produced ABC's Alias and is co-creator (along with Damon Lindelof and Jeffrey Lieber) and was executive producer of Lost. As with Felicity, Abrams also composed the opening theme music for Alias and Lost. Abrams directed and wrote the two-part pilot for Lost and remained active producer for the first half of the season. Also in 2001, Abrams co-wrote and produced the horror-thriller Joy Ride. In 2006, he served as executive producer of What About Brian and Six Degrees, also on ABC. He also co-wrote the teleplay for Lost's third-season premiere "A Tale of Two Cities" and the same year, he made his feature directorial debut with Mission: Impossible III, starring Tom Cruise. Abrams spoke at the TED conference in 2007.
In 2008, Abrams produced the monster movie Cloverfield. In 2009, he directed the science fiction film Star Trek, which he produced with Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof. While it was speculated that they would be writing and producing an adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series of novels, they publicly stated in November 2009 that they were no longer looking to take on that project. In 2008, Abrams co-created, executive produced, and co-wrote (along with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman) the FOX science fiction series Fringe, for which he also composed the theme music. He was featured in the 2009 MTV Movie Awards 1980s-style digital short "Cool Guys Don't Look at Explosions", with Andy Samberg and Will Ferrell, in which he plays a keyboard solo. NBC picked up Abrams's Undercovers as its first new drama series for the 2010–11 season. However, it was subsequently cancelled by the network in November 2010.
In 2008, it was reported that Abrams purchased the rights to a New York Times article "Mystery on Fifth Avenue" about the renovation of an 8.5 million dollar co-op, a division of property originally owned by E. F. Hutton & Co. and Marjorie Merriweather Post, for six figures and was developing a film titled Mystery on Fifth Avenue, with Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot Productions, and comedy writers Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky to write the adaptation. According to the article, a wealthy couple Steven B. Klinsky and Maureen Sherry purchased the apartment in 2003 and live there with their four children. Soon after purchasing the apartment, they hired young architectural designer Eric Clough, who devised an elaborately clever "scavenger hunt" built into the apartment that involved dozens of historical figures, a fictional book and a soundtrack, woven throughout the apartment in puzzles, riddles, secret panels, compartments, and hidden codes, without the couple's knowledge. The family didn't discover the embedded mystery until months after moving into the apartment. After Abrams purchased the article, Clough left him an encrypted message in the wall tiles of a Christian Louboutin shoe store he designed in West Hollywood.
He wrote and directed the Paramount science fiction thriller Super 8, starring Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning, while co-producing with Steven Spielberg and Bryan Burk; it was released on June 10, 2011. Abrams directed the sequel to Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, released in May 2013. The film ended being considered less original than it's predecessor and more of a loose remake of Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. Despite critics reacting positively towards the film, the director of Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan from which Into Darkness borowed lines and plot elements, revealed in 2018, to have been dissapointed with the film. He was quoted saying: "In my sort of artistic worldview, if you’re going to do an homage, you have to add something. You have to put another layer on it, and they didn’t. Just by putting the same words in different characters’ mouths didn’t add up to anything, and if you have someone dying in one scene and sort of being resurrected immediately after there’s no real drama going on. It just becomes a gimmick or gimmicky, and that’s what I found it to be ultimately."
Abrams announced at the 2013 D.I.C.E. Summit that Bad Robot Productions had made a deal with Valve Corporation to produce a film based on either the video game title Portal or Half-Life. On September 9, 2013, it was announced that Abrams would release a novel, S., written by Doug Dorst. The book was released on October 29, 2013.
On January 25, 2013, The Walt Disney Studios and Lucasfilm officially announced Abrams as director and producer of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh entry in the Star Wars film saga, which is a rival saga to Star Trek for which Abrams previously directed. Disney/Lucasfilm also announced that Bryan Burk and Bad Robot Productions would produce the feature. Following the news that he would direct The Force Awakens, speculation arose as to Abrams's future with Paramount Pictures, with whom he had released all of his previously directed feature work, and which had a first-look deal with his Bad Robot Productions. Paramount vice-chairman Rob Moore stated that Abrams will continue to have a hand in the Star Trek and Mission: Impossible franchises going forward. Abrams directed, produced, and co-wrote the screenplay for, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, working alongside Lawrence Kasdan, following the departure of co-writer Michael Arndt. Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened in theaters on December 18, 2015. It grossed over $2 billion at the box office, making him the second director to make a $2 billion movie since James Cameron's Avatar. Thefilm was considered too similar to the 1977 original Star Wars]] film, with many critics considering it a remake that is also a sequel. Despite the strong box office, and acceptance from the critics. The reaction of creator of Star Wars, George Lucas, towards J. J. Abrams's Star Wars was similar to the one Nicholas Meyer would later express towards J. J. Abrams's Star Trek sequel, Lucas found himself agreeing with the critics who perceived The Force Awakens as too derivative of the original Star Wars trilogy, particularly the original film. During an interview with talk show host and journalist Charlie Rose that aired on December 24, 2015, Lucas likened his decision to sell Lucasfilm to Disney to a divorce, and outlined the creative differences between him and the producers of The Force Awakens. Lucas described the previous six Star Wars films as his "children" and defended his vision for them, while criticizing The Force Awakens for having a "retro feel", saying: "I worked very hard to make them completely different, with different planets, with different spaceships – you know, to make it new." Lucas also likened Disney to "white slavers", which drew some criticism. He subsequently apologized for his remark. In 2017, Lucas described the sequel The Last Jedi, as "beautifully made", shortly after its release. The comment was interpreted as Lucas liking the film more than The Force Awakens, even if Lucas was never quoted as explicitly saying as much. The previous year, the Disney-produced Star Wars anthology film Rogue One had been released, and it was reported that Lucas also liked it more than The Force Awakens.
He served as a producer on the 2016 sci-fi sequel Star Trek Beyond.
Abrams produced The Cloverfield Paradox, a sequel to 10 Cloverfield Lane. It was released on Netflix in February 2018. Abrams also returned to produce a sixth Mission: Impossible film, alongside Tom Cruise, Don Granger, David Ellison, and Dana Goldberg. The film, titled Mission: Impossible – Fallout, was released in July 2018. Also that year, Abrams produced Overlord, a horror film set behind German enemy lines in World War II and directed by Julius Avery.
In July 2016, Abrams reported that a fourth alternate universe Star Trek installment was in the works and that he is confident that Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Chris Hemsworth will return for the sequel.
In September 2017, it was announced by Lucasfilm president, Kathleen Kennedy, that Abrams would be returning to Star Wars to direct and co-write the upcoming Episode IX with co-writer Chris Terrio.
In May 2018, Abrams and Avery had reunited to produce and direct, respectively, a superhero thriller film titled The Heavy, with a script written by Daniel Casey. Paramount and Bad Robot plan to begin filming sometime in 2018.
In 1989, Abrams met Steven Spielberg at a film festival, where Spielberg spoke about a possible Who Framed Roger Rabbit sequel, with Abrams as a possible writer and with Robert Zemeckis as producer. Nothing came up from this project, although Abrams has some storyboards for a Roger Rabbit short.
In July 2002, Abrams wrote a script for a possible fifth Superman film entitled Superman: Flyby. Brett Ratner and McG entered into talks to direct, although Abrams tried to get the chance to direct his own script. However, the project was finally cancelled in 2004 and instead Superman Returns was released in 2006.
In November 2009, it was reported that Abrams and Bad Robot Productions were producing, along with Cartoon Network Movies, Warner Bros., Frederator Films and Paramount Pictures, a film adaptation of Samurai Jack. However, in June 2012, series creator Genndy Tartakovsky stated that the production of the film was scrapped after Abrams' departure from the project to direct Star Trek. For this and other reasons, Tartakovsky decided to make a new season instead of a feature film. Also in 2009, it was reported that Abrams and Bad Robot Productions would produce a film based on the Micronauts toy line. However, a film has never gone into production.
In January 2014, during the promotion of the TV series Believe, it was reported that Abrams was interested in making film adaptations of Alias, Lost and Felicity. However, no films based on these series have been developed.
Abrams is married to public relations executive Katie McGrath and has three children. He resides in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California. He is Jewish and his wife is Roman Catholic, and he sometimes takes his children to religious services on Jewish holidays.
|1990||Taking Care of Business||No||Yes||No||No||No||Co-writer with Jill Mazursky|
|1991||Regarding Henry||No||Yes||Co-producer||No||Actor||Delivery Boy|
|1993||Six Degrees of Separation||No||No||No||No||Actor||Doug|
|Diabolique||No||No||No||No||Actor||Video Photographer #2|
|1997||Gone Fishin'||No||Yes||No||No||No||Co-writer with Jill Mazursky|
|1998||Armageddon||No||Yes||No||No||No||Co-screenwriter with Jonathan Hensleigh|
|1999||The Suburbans||No||No||Yes||No||Actor||Rock Journalist|
|2006||Mission: Impossible III||Yes||Yes||No||No||Digital artist||Directorial debut;|
Co-writer with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci
|Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|2013||Star Trek Into Darkness||Yes||No||Yes||No||No|
|2014||Infinitely Polar Bear||No||No||Executive||No||No|
|2015||Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|Star Wars: The Force Awakens||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Actor||Vocal cameo||Co-writer with Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt|
|2016||10 Cloverfield Lane||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|Star Trek Beyond||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|2017||The Disaster Artist||No||No||No||No||Actor||Himself|
|Star Wars: The Last Jedi||No||No||Executive||No||No|
|2018||The Cloverfield Paradox||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|Mission: Impossible – Fallout||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|2019||Star Wars: Episode IX||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Filming|
|1998–2002||Felicity||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Co-creator; writer (17 episodes), director (2 episodes), theme music co-composer|
|2001–2006||Alias||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Creator; writer (13 episodes), director (3 episodes), theme music composer|
|2004–2010||Lost||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Co-creator; writer (3 episodes), director (2 episodes), theme music composer|
|2006–2007||What About Brian||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|2006||Jimmy Kimmel Live!||Yes||No||No||No||No||Episode: "4.269"|
|2007||The Office||Yes||No||No||No||No||Episode: "Cocktails"|
|2008–2013||Fringe||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Co-creator; writer (6 episodes), theme music composer|
|2010||Undercovers||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Co-creator; writer (3 episodes), director (1 episode), theme music composer|
|2011–2016||Person of Interest||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||Theme music composer|
|2012||Alcatraz||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||Theme music composer|
|Family Guy||No||No||No||No||Actor||Himself (voice)||Episode: "Ratings Guy"|
|2012–2014||Revolution||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||Theme music composer|
|2013–2014||Almost Human||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||Theme music composer|
|2017||Nightcap||No||No||No||No||Actor||Himself||Episode: "The Show Might Go on, Part 2"|
|Tour de Pharmacy||No||No||No||No||Actor||Himself||Television film|
|2017||The Play That Goes Wrong||No||No||Yes||No||Broadway version|
Awards and nominations
|1999||Razzie Award||Worst Screenplay||Armageddon||Nominated|
|2002||Emmy Award||Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series||Alias||Nominated|
|2004||PGA Award||Best Drama||Nominated|
|2005||ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards||Top TV Series||Lost||Won|
|Directors Guild of America||Best Director||Nominated|
|Emmy Award||Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series – Pilot||Won|
|Outstanding Drama Series||Won|
|Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series – Pilot||Nominated|
|2006||ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards||Top TV Series||Won|
|PGA Award||Best Drama||Won|
|Writers Guild of America||Dramatic Series||Won|
|2007||Saturn Award||Best Director||Mission: Impossible III||Nominated|
|BAFTA Award||Best International||Lost||Nominated|
|PGA Award||Best Drama||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America||Dramatic Series||Nominated|
|2008||Emmy Award||Outstanding Drama Series||Nominated|
|2009||Emmy Award||Outstanding Drama Series||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America||Long Form||Fringe||Nominated|
|Scream Awards||Best Director||Star Trek||Won|
|2010||Saturn Award||Best Director||Nominated|
|Empire Awards||Best Director||Nominated|
|PGA Award||Theatrical Motion Picture||Nominated|
|SFX Awards||Best Director||Won|
|Hugo Awards||Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form||Nominated|
|Emmy Award||Outstanding Drama Series||Lost||Nominated|
|2011||Scream Award||Best Director||Super 8||Nominated|
|BAM Awards||Best Director||Nominated|
|2012||Saturn Award||Best Director||Won|
|SFX Awards||Best Director||Nominated|
|2013||PGA Award||Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television||Won|
|2014||Saturn Award||Best Director||Star Trek Into Darkness||Nominated|
|2016||Star Wars: The Force Awakens||Nominated|
|Empire Awards||Best Director||Won|
|Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film||Won|
|Critics' Choice Movie Awards||Best Picture||Nominated|
|Jupiter Awards||Best International Film||Won|
|Hugo Awards||Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form||Nominated|
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- "J.J. Abrams's mystery box". TED. March 24, 2011. Archived from the original on March 24, 2011. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
- J.J. Abrams Talks Cloverfield Sequel Archived February 15, 2011, at WebCite
- J.J. Abrams on 'Cloverfield' Sequel, "We're Working on Something" Archived February 15, 2011, at WebCite
- "J.J. Abrams on Star Trek and Cloverfield 2". Comingsoon.net. February 23, 2008. Archived from the original on February 25, 2008. Retrieved February 23, 2008.
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- Pamela McClintock (May 6, 2010). "Abrams, Spielberg confirmed for 'Super 8'". Variety. Archived from the original on February 15, 2011. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
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- "Wrath of Khan Director Disappointed by Star Trek Into Darkness". November 25, 2018.
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- "'Star Wars: Episode VII' script delayed".
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- "God Particle is Cloverfield 3". October 26, 2016.
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- "Bad Robot's D-Day Movie 'Overlord' Finds Director (EXCLUSIVE)".
- "Is Chris Hemsworth Returning for 'Star Trek 4'? J.J. Abrams Teases Next Sequel". July 15, 2016.
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- "Felicity Movie? Yes, Please!".
- "EW Gets the Stories Behind Those Goofy TV Production-Company Logos", Entertainment Weekly, December 7, 2001: "The title came to creator J.J. Abrams during a writers' meeting, and he recorded his children, Henry and Gracie (ages 2 and 3), saying the words into his Powerbook's microphone. 'That day in the office while editing,' says Abrams, 'I put together sound effects on my computer, burned a QuickTime movie on a CD, gave it to postproduction, and three days later it was on national television.'"
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- "Awards Winners". Writers Guild of America. Archived from the original on January 18, 2010. Retrieved October 17, 2007.
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