When asked if he was trading Star Trek for Star Wars, the director stated the following.
Star Wars: Episode VII already has a May 2015 release date. If Paramount pushes to get Star Trek 3 into theaters in the summer of 2016, J.J. Abrams would literally be working on both sequels at the same time. The director doesn't see any danger of the two franchises colliding, though, and believes that they will remain as separate as church and state. He explained how George Lucas will help to make that happen.
The worlds are vastly different. Honestly, that was why I passed on Star Wars: Episode VII to begin with. I couldn't imagine doing both. But when I said that my loyalty was to Star Trek I was literally working on finishing this cut. I couldn't even entertain another thought. It was like being on the most beautiful beach in the world and someone saying, "There's this amazing mountain over here. Come take a look." I couldn't balance the two, so I passed on Star Wars.
It was a wild time. I was near the light at the end of the tunnel with my work on Star Trek. I felt I needed a bit of a breather, actually. But then Kathleen Kennedy called again. I've known her for years. We had a great conversation, and the idea of working with her on this suddenly went from being theoretical and easy to deny to being a real, tangible, thrilling possibility. In the end it was my wife who said if it was something that really interested me, I had to consider it."
As expected, J.J. Abrams will say little to nothing at all about the actual plot or cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. Though, he will talk about the movie at great lengths in his means to explain how little he can actually say about the movie itself.
I try to approach a project from what it's asking. What does it need to be? What is it demanding? With Star Wars: Episode VII, one has to take into account what has preceded it, what worked, what didn't. There are cautionary tales for anything you take on that has a legacy-things you look at and think, I want to avoid this or that, or I want to do more of something. But even that feels like an outside-in approach, and it's not how I work. For me, the key is when you have a script; it's telling you what it wants to be.
If I viewed this from a fan's point of view-and no one's a bigger Star Wars fan than I am-or from a legacy standpoint, it would scare the hell out of me. But instead of trying to climb this mountain in one giant leap, I'm just enjoying the opportunity and looking to the people I'm working with. I've known George Lucas for a number of years and he's now a friend. Even if this wasn't Star Wars, I'd be enormously fortunate."
Will time allow J.J. Abrams to ever work on another original project again?
To read the extensive interview with J.J. Abrams and Playboy:
Star Wars: Episode VII comes to theaters December 18th, 2015 and stars John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong'o. The film is directed by J.J. Abrams.