The Life and Times of Writer and Director J.J. Abrams

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Star Trek Into Darkness stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Zoe Saldana as the Enterprise crew as they face a new foe portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Photo Credit: Paramount Home Entertainment
May 16th, 2013

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The Life and Times of Writer and Director J.J. Abrams

Fans of J.J. Abrams won't be surprised to learn that the man known for witty dialogue and complicated television plots has been writing scripts since college. Abrams, who was born in New York, grew up in Los Angeles surrounded by industry executives. In fact, his father was a producer and his mother was an executive producer, so creative storytelling and blockbuster entertainment probably run in J.J. Abrams' veins.

Abrams landed his first entertainment-industry job at the age of sixteen. In college, he co-wrote a script that later became the film "Taking Care of Business." Other early-career credits for Abrams include "Regarding Henry" and "Forever Young." By the mid-90s, Abrams had dipped his toes into acting and producing, but it was his ability to pen epic and moving scripts that bolstered his entire entertainment career.

In the late '90s, two well-known names were collaborating on what promised to be a huge film. Jerry Bruckheimer was producing a movie known as "Armageddon," which was being directed by Michael Bay. Abrams was brought in to complete some minor uncredited work on the script, but his talent was obvious and Bay requested that he work as one of the screenwriters. 

Abrams didn't need someone like Bay to push him onto the scene. It was obvious that Abrams was hard at work in numerous areas of Hollywood, because 1998 also saw the debut of "Felicity." The popular series ran four seasons and featured musical composition from Abrams, who was the co-creator and executive producer for the program. His success in television led Abrams to create the now iconic Bad Robot production company, which saw huge successes with "Lost" and "Alias."

By the mid-2000s, Abrams was known for pioneering unique television programs that catered to a widening audience of fans. His programs won numerous Emmy awards and garnered rave reviews from critics and viewers alike. Although Abrams did not quit television altogether, perhaps he thought it was time to broaden the scope of his work. Taking aim at the big screen, in a typical Abrams style, the writer-director made a huge gamble: he began directing a reboot of "Star Trek."

Fans of Abrams' previous work rejoiced to hear about his involvement with the movie, but Trekkies everywhere held their breath. Would the director deliver an epic storyline, or would he slay a cast of beloved characters? The global success of Abrams' "Star Trek" held the answer: fans were infatuated with Abrams and were willing to trust him with their favorite worlds and characters.

At the same time, Abrams' success in television continued with work on "Fringe," "Six Degrees," "Person of Interest," and "Revolution." Abrams' numerous film credits include "Super 8," "Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocol," and "Cloverfield." Abrams and his production company have won three Emmy awards.

All of this success during the past twenty years or so might lead one to believe that Abrams is a film-producing robot without much of a life outside of the stories he makes. That is not essentially true. In fact, Abrams is a real person with a family and interests that have nothing to do with Hollywood. He's married to a public relations expert, and the couple has two sons and a daughter. The family lives in California.

It might appear that Abrams is at the height of his career, but apparently the writer-director thinks there are more entertainment mountains to conquer. It seems both Hollywood and viewers are inclined to agree with him, because he keeps getting contracts for work. Abrams' upcoming films include a second and third installment in the "Star Trek" series, multiple television movies, a sequel to "Cloverfield," and movies based on adaptations of popular video games like "Portal" and "Half-life."

Perhaps one of the most exciting bits of Abrams-based trivia is the fact that he will be at the helm of the much-anticipated "Star Wars" film. The seventh film in the series is scheduled for a 2016 release. Fans of the iconic series were puzzled and fearful at the news that Disney had purchased rights to "Star Wars." Huge sighs of relief swept through the blogosphere when Disney announced that J.J. Abrams would be directing the seventh installment. Abrams proved to be trustworthy before, and most fans are willing to lay bets that he won't let them down this time.

Of course, not everyone is in agreement. Hollywood is all about drama, and you don't get drama without a dissenting voice. J.J. Abrams was one of the first people to admit that fact. Regardless of what fans think about one or two of his films, however, it can't be denied that Abrams consistently delivers entertainment worth the price of admission.