J.J. Abrams: 5 Things You Need To Know

J.J. Abrams Super 8 Headshot 2011
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J.J. Abrams Super 8

The director's new film 'Super 8' starring Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler and Joel Courtney opens Friday.

J.J. Abrams' passion project, Super 8 -- based on the director's own youthful pastime of making 8-millimeter films as a teenager in the 1970s -- opens in theaters Friday.  

Here are 5 things you need to know about the writer-producer-director. 

1.  He's best known for directing and co-writing the LOST pilot. Abrams had limited involvement with the ABC series' after its first year, and also produced both Felicity and Alias, but it's still the project he's asked most about. "I get a lot of people asking me, in terms of Lost, ‘What the hell’s that island?’" he has said. "It’s usually followed by, ‘No, seriously, what the hell’s that island?’” 

2. He's had a connection to idol Steven Spielberg since childhood. After an article was written about Abrams and Reeves who had been profiled as young filmmakers in a L.A. film fest, he was contacted by the prolific director to repair and refurbish some of his own 8-millimeter films shot during his own teenage years. Abrams made $150 for the job, but didn't actually meet Spielberg until years later.
3. He got a 'mystery box' as a child and has never opened it. Abrams makes no secret for his love of mystery and the unknown, and traces much of that influence in his projects back to the mystery box he received as a child...the contents of which he has still never seen. “It represents infinite possibility. It represents hope. It represents potential,” he has said of the box in it's closed form. 

4. He never went to film school. Instead Abrams attended Sarah Lawrence College and studied history and english. But, he did manage to write and sell a screenplay before graduation. It became the 1990 movie Taking Care of Business. 

5. Super 8 is only the third movie he's directed. Abrams helmed Mission Impossible III (starring pal Tom Cruise, who attended the Super 8 premiere Wednesday in L.A.) and 2009's very successful Star Trek reboot. But, Super 8 is not only the first original film he's brought to the big screen, he also wrote the script.