Star Trek. Star Wars. Lost. Westworld. Cloverfield. Fringe. Alias. Felicity… these are just some of the credits on TV/movie titan JJ Abrams’ résumé. So you definitely know the work of this triple-threat talent, whose directorial efforts have raked in a cool $3.579 billion, but did you know he’s also a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College? Abrams came back to Bronxville recently, to deliver SLC’s commencement address, but not before he was kind enough to spend some time with Westchester Magazine.
Can you tell us a little about your time here in Westchester?
I loved being here. I would say that the experience of being so far away from home but so close to NYC, in a place that’s so beautiful but also just a train ride away from Manhattan, was like a dream for a kid who grew up in Los Angeles. And I loved my time at SLC, and I’m thrilled to come back and visit.
Did you form any lasting relationships here?
Very much so. Right now I’m currently standing in a building that was designed by Andy Waisler, who was an amazing designer and architect and someone I met my freshman year at Sarah Lawrence. My many friendships from Sarah Lawrence are very much in effect today and, you know, not just the relationships with friends but also a relationship to a work ethic and community and feeling like, in a way, it was the place where, for the first time, I believed I could do the thing in life that I wanted to do since I was a kid.
You brought the Star Trek and Star Wars universes under one roof. What was it like heading into that sort of unprecedented challenge?
Well, I mean, they were and are incredibly separate projects. They’re things that don’t really overlap in my experience much at all, with the exception of some of the people I’ve gotten to work on them. But taking on each of those worlds was a big challenge but also the kind of opportunity that a kid who dreams of being a movie director and filmmaker to have realized is surreal and thrilling.
Do you have any project or accomplishment you would like to be remembered by?
Oh dear Lord! [Laughs]. In terms of my work, I try not to consider it from the outside in. I can tell you there’s a certain special place in my heart for shows like Felicity and Alias, because they were at the very beginning of my TV career, and I got to work with people like Keri Russell and Jennifer Garner. It was just a sweet, fun group of people. Certainly getting to know Carrie Fisher and getting to work so closely with Harrison Ford and Anthony Daniels, and getting to hire people like Daisy Ridley, John Boag, and Oscar Issac was a complete honor. I feel so lucky to have been involved, but I have no idea what I would want or expect to be remembered for.
What would you want people to remember about you on a personal level?
I hope that they remember that I didn’t eat quite as much as I did.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re really excited about?
We are working on a couple things I really can’t wait for people to see. One of them is this show called Castle Rock, which is going to be on Hulu. It takes place in the Stephen King universe. And the next season of Westworld on HBO; we’re working on that.