He may be a movie mogul with multiple films and countless TV projects in development, but dammit, J.J. Abrams still has time to support three-year-old ratings-challenged TV shows that fall under his Bad Robot banner. To help drum up attention for Fringe, the writer-producer-director schlepped out to Pasadena earlier this week to attend a Fox-sponsored bash at the semiannual TV Critics Association press tour. Vulture sat down with Mr. Abrams to talk about Star Trek in 3-D, when we can expect to see more of Super 8, and why he’s totally gaga for Christian Bale.
So, what did you think when you were first told Fringe was moving to Fridays?
My first reaction was, “Shiiiiit!” Followed almost immediately, “Thank you, Fox.” Because the truth is, we’re talking about the third season of Fringe, a show a lot of other networks wouldn’t have given any support beyond a first season.
The first episode on Friday is called “Firefly.”
Yes. The people who get the joke will get the joke. It’s hard to celebrate a show’s move to Friday night. And yet when I look at what they’re doing … I believe it deserves an audience. And I think it will get one.
What’s up with the next Trek movie?
A script is being written by very smart people. I look forward to reading it.
Has Paramount asked you to consider doing the next Trek in 3-D?
I have nothing against 3-D in theory. But I’ve also never run to the movies because something’s in 3-D. [As for Trek], as soon as I read the script, if it says, “Somebody pushes a weapon toward the camera in a menacing way,” and we think, “That’d be better in 3-D!”… I dunno. What do you wanna see? 2-D or 3D?
I don’t care.
I’m a big fan of whip pans, which is very hard to do in 3-D. You know, when I was in New York fifteen years ago, and I sort of had the flu, I remember turning the TV on. There were these kids in a very dark, kind of muddy movie that was on a local channel, talking about making out. Then you cut to them walking in the forest, and somebody had a paddleball, and they were doing it right to the camera. It was like this weird, experimental Fellini movie. I was like, “What the fuck is this movie?” And it was Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3-D — without sex, violence, or 3-D! It was genius.
Alcatraz seems to be the pilot furthest along for this development season.
We start filming on the 19th. Liz Sarnoff wrote a fucking brilliant script and we have a cast that I’m stoked about. And the director is terrific. I’m on the edge of my seat … I’m holding my breath because it’s an amazing group. My fingers are just so crazily crossed for this one.
What can you tell us about the time-travel element of the show?
All I will say is that something very weird happened at Alcatraz 50 years ago.
Are you shooting any of Alcatraz at Alcatraz?
Some of it, yeah.
Are you going to direct any pilots this year?
No. I want to, but I’m editing Super 8 right now.
When’s the next trailer for Super 8?
Even for you, you’re keeping the details very much under wraps on Super 8.
The strategy isn’t some coy bullshit thing. All we’re trying to do is save something for the experience of seeing a movie. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I get so overinformed that by the time a movie’s released, I don’t care. I’ve seen it.
So do you get the time to actually consume pop culture these days? Anything you’re digging right now?
I love The Fighter. As someone who never really kind of thought of Christian Bale in this way — I want to start a fan club. Everybody was good, but Christian Bale was like, “What?” You gotta see it. You can’t believe Christian Bale. And The King’s Speech killed me. It was so sweet and the performances were so good.