J.J. Abrams on ‘The Force Awakens:’ Simon Pegg’s Involvement, and Character Names

By August 14, 2015
Last Week Tonight - J.J. Abrams

Director J.J. Abrams is a machine when it comes to reinvigorating classic sci-fi franchises. In 2009, he released Star Trek, successfully relaunching a film franchise that had burned out seven years before, giving it a new coat of paint that appealed to a very broad base of people. In 2013, he released a second film in that series, and this year he’s at the head of what’s expected to be the biggest movie of the year. By directing Star Wars: The Force Awakens — the first new Star Wars film in ten years, and first sequel in over 30 — Abrams is quickly solidifying himself as the preeminent director in the sci-fi genre.

While there’s still quite a lot of mystery surrounding the forthcoming Star Wars film, Abrams seems to have a slightly more relaxed attitude in letting out certain details. He won’t spoil the plot by any means, but he seems more open in discussing the workings of the production, and some of the thinking that goes into creating the first sequel in the franchise in over three decades. He didn’t do it all alone, though, and one very helpful set of eyes was his friend Simon Pegg.

In an interview with EW, Abrams detailed how Pegg’s love of the Star Wars franchise and his own solid sensibilities as a screenwriter helped not only to inform some aspects of The Force Awakens, but how these new films will be shaped. Abrams said,

I will say this in terms of Simon: while he won’t be recognizable in the movie, in all honesty, his role in this – not the performance or the character – but his support and friendship has been massively important and helpful in the process. He was a wonderful partner in crime to kick the story around and ask questions and come up with ideas, and he was an incredibly helpful part of the process for all of us. I’m very grateful.

Abrams also detailed that Pegg’s help came from a place of both love of the franchise, and distance from the work that was being done on the film itself.

He would drop by the set because he wanted to, and when he could, he would help. We could talk about things, and he was a perfect combination of incredibly smart screenwriter, fan of the series, critical fan of the series, and friend of mine – but not just blindly supportive. He was an honest, critical friend. And he wasn’t so close to it that he became immune to things. He would come in with fresh eyes and very smart ideas. He’s one of a handful of people along the way that has been really priceless.

Abrams also spoke with EW about the names of the main characters in The Force Awakens, detailing that Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron was named after his assistant, Morgan Dameron. Perhaps more interestingly, though, is the fact that the characters played by Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, whose names are Rey and Finn respectively, haven’t included any last names in pre-release materials. Surprisingly, Abrams says that omission is very deliberate.

I will only say about that that it is completely intentional that their last names aren’t public record.

Could one of those names be something familiar, like “Solo” or “Skywalker?” Abrams wouldn’t confirm the possibility, but he also wouldn’t deny it, either.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens will hit theaters on December 18th. For more on the film as it takes shape, keep it locked on GeekNation!

Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.