By J. Rentilly
IN THE WORLD according to J.J. Abrams,
we are all better together. In real life, the
47-year-old Abrams is a devoted husband and
father with a close-knit coterie of lifelong
friends and collaborators. In reel life, Abrams
is the mastermind behind such blockbuster
film and television fare as Lost, Alias, Fringe,
Mission: Impossible 3 and 4, as well as Star
Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, the latter
just released on Blu-ray. These fantastic, cliff-hanging tales balance on the power of love,
devotion, fidelity, commitment and family.
Abrams is a populist, to be sure, cranking out
one hit TV show and box-office hit after
another, including 2015’s wildly anticipated
Star Wars return, but a purist as well. To hear
him tell it, it all comes down to family. Sure,
the gang on Star Trek’s Enterprise isn’t blood
related, but when it comes to once more facing the wrath of a mysterious nemesis in Into
Darkness, they band together to live another
day. Better together, indeed.
The Costco Connection: Nobody combines spectacle and heart in big, crowd-pleas-ing projects, such as Star Trek Into Darkness,
like you do. What are some of the stories and
storytellers who have inspired you?
J.J. Abrams: I remember crying like a baby
when I was, like, 11, having just seen Charles
Laughton in Hunchback of Notre Dame. It
was this perfect marriage of illusion and fan-
tasy and this powerful emotional reality, of
spectacle and intimacy, and it just really
moved me. That film really got me obsessed
with telling stories. I’d been making little
short movies already for years, little Super 8
things, with my friends, but Hunchback
showed me we could do something more,
that the heart is as important as the spectacle.
Then, of course, there were films by Steven
Spielberg and George Lucas and John
Carpenter and David Cronenberg, people
who have managed to take the most ordinary
and mundane and combine that with the
most extraordinary and spectacular to make
these great, great films.
CC: The real takeaway from a J.J. Abrams
project is this palpable sense of wonder. That’s
something most of us outgrow. How do you
hang on to that and keep it refreshed?
JJA: I feel like I’ve always felt like I was aware
of where I was—meaning, I remember being
in elementary school and saying to myself,
“This is elementary school. Appreciate this.
The Costco Connection
You can find Star Trek Into Darkness, in Blu-ray and 3D, as well as other titles, in your
local Costco warehouse.
Be aware of where you are,
because it’s not going to last forever.” I felt that way in high
school. I felt that way in college. I
felt that way on my wedding day.
The fact that I get to make a living
in the entertainment business,
I’m constantly reminded how
impossibly lucky it is to be able to
do something you love and have
always wanted to do.
CC: It’s a romantic sense of the
world. It’s hopeful.
JJA: I feel like it’s something I see
in Steven Spielberg’s work, too.
People often say a lot of his films
have this childlike sense of wonder. When they say childlike, I
don’t think they mean naive or
innocent even. I think what
they’re talking about is a sense of
optimism and a sense of possibility. That’s something that speaks
to me. You could argue that’s a
romantic way to see the world,
but I think you could also say it’s
the best way to see the world.
I like to tell stories that have a
sense of hopefulness to them, even when
they’re scary or larger than life or crazy and
relentless. Hopefully, there’s a bigger heart
and sense of hope there. It’s how I choose to
live my life and it’s, hopefully, a part of the
stories I tell.
CC: Part of that hopefulness and optimism
comes from the sense of family that is a recurring theme in all of your work, certainly in the
Star Trek films: the dysfunctional, makeshift
family that somehow bands together to, uh,
save the universe. Where does that come from?
JJA: For me, the question of family seems to
be at the heart of most great stories. I mean,
TV is mostly family stories, even if the families
are not literal: people who are thrown together
in the hospital or the precinct or the law firm
and they become the closest allies with the
deepest connections, even if they have the
Looking at a movie like Into Darkness, it’s
about a family that depends upon each other,
J.J. Abrams keeps going boldly forward
arts & entertainment