J.J. Abrams And 'Star Wars': A Years' Long Love Affair

Long before he signed on to direct the seventh episode, Abrams flaunted his fandom.

Ever since Disney caused an Internet storm of fanboy excitement last year with the news of their big plans to make new "Star Wars" movies, we've been not-so-patiently waiting for the pieces to fall into place. We have a writer, but we needed a director. Now, we got one: fan-loved director J.J. Abrams has officially been tapped to direct "Star Wars: Episode VII."

For many people, the news came as a surprise since Abrams had been doing his best to flat out shoot down the rumors that he'd been offered the opportunity to become involved. He told Empire Magazine that he "declined any involvement very early on" due to his loyalty to "Star Trek," his other blockbuster franchise and then went on to say that because he was such a fan of George Lucas' groundbreaking work he preferred to experience the new "Star Wars" as an audience member only.

" 'Star Wars' is one of my favorite movies of all time," Abrams told Hollywood Life when asked about the rumors. "I frankly feel that — I almost feel that, in a weird way, the opportunity for whomever it is to direct that movie, it comes with the burden of being that kind of iconic movie and series. I was never a big 'Star Trek' fan growing up, so for me, working on 'Star Trek' didn't have any of that, you know, almost fatal sacrilege, and so, I am looking forward more [than] anyone to the next iterations of Star Wars, but I believe I will be going as a paying moviegoer!"

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Clearly times have changed, tables turned, and the "paying moviegoer" has changed his tune. Here's the thing: we shouldn't be surprised. Even when he was denying that he'd direct the film, Abrams was not shy about admitting his love for the world George Lucas brought to life.

"As a kid I was always a fan of special effects," Abrams told Entertainment Weekly last November during a chat about how he wasn't the man for the directing job. "Watching movies I was constantly trying to figure out how they did it, whatever the effect was. 'Star Wars' was the first movie that blew my mind in that way; it didn't matter how they did any of it because it was all so overwhelmingly and entirely great. It was funny and romantic and scary and compelling and the visual effects just served the characters and story. It galvanized for me; not for what was exciting about how movies were made, but rather for what movies were capable of."

Abrams also freely admitted to preferring "Star Wars" to "Star Trek" and that most of the highly-stylized, fantastical blockbusters owe a debt to Lucas' legacy, even his own "Trek" film.

"As a kid, 'Star Wars' was much more my thing than 'Star Trek' was," told the L.A. Times' Hero Complex back in 2009. "If you look at the last three 'Star Wars' films and what technology allowed them to do, they covered so much terrain in terms of design, locations, characters, aliens, ships — so much of the spectacle has been done and it seems like every aspect has been covered, whether it's geography or design of culture or weather system or character or ship type. Everything has been tapped in those movies. The challenge of doing 'Star Trek' — despite the fact that it existed before 'Star Wars' — is that we are clearly in the shadow of what George Lucas has done."

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Long before he knew he'd one day be directing a "Star Wars" movie, Abrams told MTV News back in 2009 that he wanted his "Star Trek" to have hints of "Star Wars," which included hiring Lucas' visual effects company ILM to make the action in "Trek" extra special.

"[I] was trying to combine both of those elements and make a movie that wasn't like a 'Star Wars' movie but felt that it had more pace and action than certain 'Star Trek' movies had," Abrams said. "ILM, George Lucas' company, did the visual effects. They are incredible."

Do you think it's important for a "Star Wars" fan to direct the project? Sound off in the comments!