J.J. Abrams Fondly Recalls Time When Little Was Known About 'Star Wars' Universe

"The beauty of [the original film] was that it was an unfamiliar world, and yet you wanted to see it expand and to see where it went," the director teases.
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J.J. Abrams

More than 35 years after the release of the first Star Wars title, the universe has been mined for a nearly limitless number of spinoff novels, TV series, games and toys -- in addition to the six blockbuster movies. For those looking, there's a lengthy explanation for every starship layout, Force ability or minor character.

J.J. Abrams appears to want mystery left in the franchise. A new interview with the Star Wars: Episode VII helmer is short on details for the latest film entry and long on speculation.

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What fans do learn from hints dropped by the director in The Times of London feature (subscription required), is that Abrams fondly recalls a time when everything wasn't spelled out in a Star Wars film.

"If you watch the first movie, you don't actually know exactly what the Empire is trying to do," Abrams tells the U.K. paper. "They're going to rule by fear -- but you don't know what their endgame is. You don't know what Leia is princess of. You don't yet understand who Jabba the Hutt is, even though there is a reference to him. You don't know that Vader is Luke's father, Leia is his sister -- but the possibility is all there. The beauty of that movie was that it was an unfamiliar world, and yet you wanted to see it expand and to see where it went."

The remarks can be taken in context with the director's earlier hint over the summer that he'll be "honoring but not revering what came before."

With Toy Story 3 writer Michael Arndt's exit from the sequel late last month, Abrams is now scripting the film along with Empire Strikes Back writer Lawrence Kasdan. As previously disclosed by The Hollywood Reporter, the team is now scrambling to finish the project ahead of the planned 2015 release date.

Elsewhere in The Times of London interview, the unfounded Star Wars rumor of the week may have been launched. Times writer Rhys Blakely noticed that 12 Years a Slave actor Chiwetel Ejiofor was "sitting in the lobby of J. J. Abrams' office" before his interview.

Abrams declined to comment to Blakely about that appearance and merely noted: "[Ejiofor is] a very talented gentleman."