'Star Wars' director faces hype, history in 'Force Awakens'

Sun Dec 6, 2015 1:11am EST
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By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The new installment in the "Star Wars" movie saga opens in theaters this month against a formidable force: the galactic hopes of devoted fans who have waited a decade to revisit their beloved universe of Jedi, droids and lightsabers.

Can "The Force Awakens," the seventh episode in the celebrated sci-fi series, meet those expectations when it debuts on December 18? "No," said director J.J. Abrams. "How can anything live up to any expectation like that?"

What the movie will offer, Abrams told Reuters, is great performances and visual effects, music "that breaks your heart and soars," plus a story, characters and creatures that are new, but feel like they fit in the universe created by George Lucas in the original 1977 film.

"George was creating a world that we wanted to go back to in order to tell a story we'd never seen yet," Abrams said. "In a way, we were going backward to go forward."

For example, he said, the filmmakers created droids "to feel completely new and different and at the same time something that was so of 'Star Wars.' That was always the challenge."

Lucas bowed out of "Star Wars" after he sold his film studio to Walt Disney Co in 2012 for $4 billion. "Force Awakens" is the first in a new film trilogy.

"There's no way that I can imagine anything touching the magic of what he did," Abrams said, "and yet we all did the best we could to make that happen."

Set 30 years after "Return of the Jedi," the new movie brings characters Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) back to their galaxy far, far away. Newcomers Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) lead a younger generation that grapples with the conflicts that haunted the past.   Continued...

People wait into a metro station decorated with Star Wars characters to promote the upcoming film 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'  in Paris, France, December 1, 2015.   REUTERS/Charles Platiau