Was that part of the connection you had with Steven Spielberg, who also began by making 8mm movies?Person of Interest and Alcatraz
ABRAMS: When I had this thought to go back and do a movie about that period of time, the first thing I did was call him because I knew that he had made movies as well, at that time. Luckily, he said yes.
A lot of your projects have had a monster element or plot to them, and you said you experimented with monster movies when you were a kid. What do you like about the monster factor, and tweaking it for a modern audience?
ABRAMS: It depends on what it is. There are situations where it’s great for a scene or sequence, but not the whole movie. And then, there are times when it’s a fun idea and that’s the premise. In this case, the idea of a creature was cool for me, but just because the idea was that it would be a way to externalize and make physical this thing that this kid was going through internally – the idea of the loss of his mother. This creature represented the thing that was the most frightening to him, which was the idea of never getting past the loss of this person to him. To me, I’m more interested in the idea of why there’s something there. What does it represent? What does it mean for a character?
What attracted you to Person of Interest and Alcatraz, and how difficult is it to balance films with keeping your eye on all of the television shows?Star Trek
ABRAMS: Liz Sarnoff wrote her script for Alcatraz and it was based on an idea that was brought to us. There was a very good script, but it just needed to get to that next level, and Liz came in and wrote a draft that just blew us away. And, Jonah Nolan came to us separately with an idea for a show that we loved, and we thought, “Wow, this could be something.” I’m not even sure he was planning on doing it, but then it became this thing. The notes I gave on the scripts were just to help these people who created these shows realize them to the best of what they wanted them to be. I feel like I’m there to serve them and help them do their job. We also have my producing partner Bryan Burk, and we have Kathy Lingg and Athena Wickham, who run the TV side of Bad Robot. They’re awesome, and have been doing amazing work on Fringe with Jeff Pinkner and Joel Wyman. They worked with Jonah and Liz, and the crews for those shows. I would give notes on outlines, and then the scripts themselves, and then cuts of the dailies, and then cuts of the pilots. My involvement in the shows will be as much as they need me to be involved, but I’m working with people who are awesome and do a great job. I try to help them do their thing, and they’re trying to help me do mine.
Is it harder to nail down the story direction because this is really now a new Star Trek and anything goes?
ABRAMS: I don’t think that’s been any kind of hindrance, or additional problem. But, I certainly think that we want to make sure that it’s done right. The guys we’re working with are obviously brilliant, so I’m really excited to get back into it. Super 8 has been something that I’ve been working on pretty closely, so it’s been hard to find the leisure time to discuss Kirk and Spock.