I had a smooth and relaxing late-breakfast sitdown with Star Trek director JJ Abrams about two hours ago. We’ve been corresponding four or five years but had never met so it was cool to finally do so. My being a moderately big fan of the film (I gave it an HE grade of 8.7 or 8.8 last week) along with the softly-lighted setting of the lobby of the Four Seasons hotel only enhanced the vibe.
Abrams is full of pep and positivism, and about as sharp as they come. He’s almost certainly a as much of a compulsive work fiend as yours truly (if not more so) and is one of those guys who seem preternaturally skilled at being 100% present in the room — there’s no sense that he’s keeping a portion of himself hidden — and at the same time are expert at making conversational partners feel they’re being fully listened to and focused upon.
He had a typical Jewish breakfast (salmon, bagels, cream cheese) and I had the same typical WASP breakfast (scrambled eggs, rye toast, orange juice, bacon served as volcanic ash) that I’ve been eating since I was eight years old.
I conveyed my basic feelings about the film — that it’s a reboot to the Trek franchise in the same way that Casino Royale rebooted the 007 films, that it feels well-coiled and tightly constructed, and that it’s especially successful in the sense that it leaves you just a little bit hungry (as opposed to films that make you feel you’ve absorbed too much of them). His answers speak for themselves.
I asked if long-departed Paramount production chief Gail Berman in fact “came up with the idea of doing the Star Trek prequel now arriving in theaters,” as it said in a 5.4 Brooks Barnes N.Y. Times piece. Abrams basically said yes, she did come to him and proposed a new Star Trek film, and that he answered that he didn’t want to do Star Trek #11 and wanted to get back to basics with a reboot approach and that she said cool.
We also talked technology, travel (i.e., a Star Trek screening for troops in Kuwait), kids, health and so on. I was expecting no more than a 20-minute session after a negotiation with his tough assistant; we wound up talking for about 45 minutes.