J.J. Abrams is a huge geek. There, I said it.
Besides being the head of a hugely successful production company, and the writer, director, creator, and producer of a literal plethora of gigantic movies and television shows, he is also a big geek.
As many people have noticed, fandoms of particular TV shows and movies are usually very protective of their own particular obsessions. Star Trek vs. Star Wars debates usually begin with good humor, and then they often progress to stronger opinions on the subject. Few people are the kind of folks that love multiple fandoms simultaneously, and with equal fervor. You pick sides.
But J.J. Abrams is that kind of person. He grew up with parents who were movie producers, and he got his first break writing theme music and doing sound effects for movies when he was 15 years old. He was obsessed with all things sci-fi and fantasy. He was a huge fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, The Twilight Zone, Mission: Impossible, and many other movies and television of the time. He began young, as a writer and director of films and shows, and he had almost immediate success. His quirkiness and his range of talents are evident from the fact that he also usually wrote the theme music for his creations, and still does. He was just off a string of successes that included some of the most popular television series on at the time, when the Paramount Studios executive in charge of the Trek franchise requested Abrams specifically when they were looking to reboot the Star Trek timeline for a new generation of fans and performers. He described the experience as something he had never imagined happening. He took to the project eagerly, modifying the entire timeline to allow for new relationships and characterizations that ruffled the feathers of some purists, but that have also reinvigorated the fandom and himself.
Shortly after, the powers that be at Disney, who had just purchased Lucasfilm, approached him to create the first of a planned new Star Wars trilogy.
Again, Abrams was granted the privilege of steering the ship of another of his most beloved fandoms. With The Force Awakens, he created a film that upheld the universality of the Star Trek saga, and that was a worthy successor to continue to keep the galaxy far, far away and the idea of The Force alive for the same new generation of fans and fandom, again including himself.
Additionally, Abrams has created the most recent series of Mission: Impossible films, and Lost (which is arguably one of the weirdest shows in TV history), and he shows no signs of slowing down his extremely prolific creative pace. His distractibility emerges in the fact that there are also many other projects that he has not completed, and some of those are just as nerdy. For example, there was a toy line in the 1980s called Micronauts. Remembering those toys, which were basically plastic skeletal robots, Abrams started to develop a story regarding their origin as well as a set of adventures. However, as that process continued, he got distracted and moved on to other ventures.
His company, Bad Robot, has become a major power player in the industry. Abrams subscribes to a philosophy that he attributes to Chris Rock: he hires people he views as capable of being his boss. People who are better than him, who can tell him what they need him to do. He views himself as a collaborator, rather than a boss, and he does his best work when he is working as an equal with another creative person. When there is a need to figure out something he doesn’t know how to do or knows he’s not the best choice for, Abrams looks to work with someone who is.
An example of this is that he’s been married to the same person, Katie McGrath, for more than 20 years, and she’s also the CEO of the production company. Abrams says he depends on his wife to help him with decision-making and staying focused. It was she who convinced him to accept many of the offers and projects he’s worked on.
Those enjoy the Trek, Wars, and other creative works from Bad Robot productions and the mind of J.J. Abrams, are fortunate that those projects are safely in the hands of a geek like us.