Talking to J.J. Abrams about “Super 8” these days is a far different experience than it was just a few months ago. During a late April phone conversation, held as the director was putting the finishing touches on his film’s score, Abrams was impressively, impenetrably tight-lipped about the project’s many mysteries. When we asked how far into “Super 8” the much-hyped, never-seen creature would be revealed, he simply answered, “I would say the film will obviously answer that question.”
But when Abrams stopped by the MTV Newsroom on Tuesday (June 14), fresh off his film’s impressive, $35.5 million opening weekend , the guy couldn’t have been more open. He answered lingering questions, cleared up sources of debate, and reveled in hearing how fans were taking in a film that is undoubtedly the most personal of his career. Among the most compelling topics we hit on were his revelations about the mysterious creature itself. (Needless to say, there are major spoilers below.)
Once the “Super 8” alien could be fully glimpsed as it wreaked havoc in a small Ohio town, some observers noted a similarity between the creature and the alien in 2008’s “Cloverfield,” which Abrams produced. As he explained it to us, there is a link between the two creatures, but not one that has any storytelling impact.
“The only connection between the creature in ’Super 8’ and the creature in ’Cloverfield’ is that they were both designed by the same guy, Neville Page,” Abrams said. “They actually look very different, but they both have two eyes, a nose and a mouth. So, in that regard, it also looks a lot like Laurence Olivier!”
That answer puts to rest any suggestion that “Super 8” and “Cloverfield” exist in the same universe or that the “Super 8” alien’s actions in the 1970s somehow impacted the other alien’s later actions in “Cloverfield.” When we asked Abrams if there is a same-universe connection between the two flicks, he said, “No.”
Abrams went on to talk specifically about what they needed their multi-limbed “Super 8” alien to accomplish and why it ended up looking the way it did. “The creature in ’Super 8’ needed to be scary and it also needed to have the ability to have a performance and be a little bit less scary too,” he explained. “We didn’t want a creature that was just running around thumping his chest and screaming. It needed to be something that was able to have a plan, have an experience. Smart enough to create something, build something.
“A lot of what the design was, was how do we do both?” Abrams continued. “If there was a big, strong soldier who had been taken in, was a prisoner of war and had escaped, if this guy was Rambo. Basically this could be someone who for some would be very scary, could be full of rage and also could be emotional and nuanced. So it really was a question of, he wasn’t King Kong and a lot of what we needed to do was find a way to have a design that would give us that latitude to do both — the big scares and also the more subtle stuff.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Super 8.”
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