For those of you who don’t know him by name, JJ Abrams is the co-creator and producer of numerous television series, such as Alias, Lost, and Fringe, for which he has written and directed many episodes (he also wrote the music for their opening credits). On the big screen, JJ directed Mission: Impossible III and this month’s brilliant Star Trek reboot, along with producing last year’s fantastic Cloverfield.
Due to a crowded conference call, I only got to ask JJ a couple questions, but that was enough to make my day. And he gave me some very detailed answers.
All of your projects feature very strong-willed, independent females like Olivia Dunham. Who or what is your inspiration for those characters?
I would like to think that I’ve been luck enough to work on projects that have strong-willed characters who happen to be male or female, and in the case of characters like Kate or Sydney Bristow, and certainly Olivia Dunham, those are females that hopefully pop because they are interesting and strong-willed, but I could also point to certain male characters that have the same things. I guess the answer is that I don’t really try to write characters that are strong women, I just try to write, when I can, strong characters, and if they happen to be women, they happen to be women.
And in my life, I’ve got the most spectacular wife in Katie McGrath. She is probably the strongest and best influence on me that I’ve ever had. And I would say that it’s no coincidence that it was after I met her that I wrote Felicity, mostly because she reminded me to write about stuff that I actually care about again. It had been a while. But her strength, and her amazing ability to not only immediately understand right and wrong, but she’s amazingly capable of articulating that position. And she’s very socially active and politically minded, and fights the good fight, and she’s someone who is definitely an inspiration, who happens to be a woman.
By the way, I saw Trek last night, and I’m going again tonight. I loved it.
God bless you, sir. Thank you very much.
Anyway, now that we’ve seen Charlie and Broyles in this alternate reality, do you think we might run into, say, a still-breathing John Scott over there?
I would say that it would be very difficult now that “John Scott’s” show got picked up.
Ooo, that’s right.
But having said that, I’m very excited that it got picked up. And I do think that there will be some very interesting things happening, given this “other place” that you’re referring to. And again, that’s part of the fun of the show, and I hope one of the aspects of the show that makes it incredibly unique. Meaning, my favorite kinds of ideas are the things that we work on that make me think, “there’s no other show on television that could do that wierd thing.” That’s my favorite kind of an idea. And I just think that if you don’t go for those, then the show becomes increasingly mundane and disposable. But the more you can do some of those things, even if they don’t work, to try and do those things that feel specifically “that show.” Anyway, there are some things with that “other place” that I think will feel uniquely “Fringe.”
Thanks, JJ! I’m really looking forward to Trek sequels, as well as his next project with Damon Lindelof: a movie adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower.
Head over to FringeTelevision.com for the full audio from the interview.