J. J. Abrams

J. J. Abrams

Born Jeffrey Jacob Abrams
(1966-06-27) June 27, 1966
New York City, U.S.
Education Palisades Charter High School
Alma mater Sarah Lawrence College
Occupation Film director, producer, screenwriter, composer
Years active 1982–present
Home town Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Spouse(s) Katie McGrath (m. 1996)
Children 3

Jeffrey Jacob Abrams (born June 27, 1966) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, and composer. He is known for work in the genres of action, drama, and science fiction. Abrams wrote and/or produced feature films such as Regarding Henry (1991), Forever Young (1992), Armageddon (1998), Cloverfield (2008), and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).

He created or co-created a number of TV drama series, including Felicity (co-creator, 1998–2003), Alias (creator, 2001–2006), Lost (co-creator, 2004–2010), and Fringe (co-creator, 2008–2013). Abrams won two Emmy Awards for LostOutstanding Directing for a Drama Series and Outstanding Drama Series.

His directorial film work includes Star Trek (2009) and its sequel Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), Mission: Impossible III (2006), and Super 8 (2011). He also directed and co-wrote Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), the first film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy and his highest-grossing film, as well as the third highest-grossing film of all time.

Abrams's frequent creative collaborators include producer Bryan Burk, actors Greg Grunberg and Simon Pegg, writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, composer Michael Giacchino, cinematographers Daniel Mindel and Larry Fong, and editors Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey.

Early life

Abrams was born in New York City and raised in Los Angeles, the son of television producer Gerald W. Abrams (born 1939) and executive producer Carol Ann Abrams (née Kelvin; 1942–2012).[1] His sister is screenwriter Tracy Rosen.[1] He attended Palisades High School. After high school, Abrams planned to go to film school rather than an academic college but eventually enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College, following his dad's advice: "it's more important that you go off and learn what to make movies about than how to make movies."[2]


Early career

Abrams's first job in the movie business started at 15 when he wrote the music for Don Dohler's 1982 film Nightbeast. During his senior year at college, he teamed with Jill Mazursky to write a feature film treatment.[3] Purchased by Touchstone Pictures, the treatment was the basis for Taking Care of Business, Abrams's first produced film, which starred Charles Grodin and James Belushi. He followed with Regarding Henry, starring Harrison Ford, and Forever Young, starring Mel Gibson. He also co-wrote with Mazursky the script for the comedy Gone Fishin' starring Joe Pesci and Danny Glover.

In 1994, he was part of the "Propellerheads" with Rob Letterman, Loren Soman, and Andy Waisler, a group of Sarah Lawrence alums experimenting with computer animation technology who were contracted by Jeffrey Katzenberg to develop animation for the film Shrek.[4] Abrams worked on the screenplay for the 1998 film Armageddon with producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay. That same year, he made his first foray into television with Felicity, which ran for four seasons on The WB Network, serving as the series' co-creator (with Matt Reeves) and executive producer. He also composed its opening theme music.


Abrams at the Time 100 Gala (2010) in Manhattan

Under his production company, Bad Robot, which he founded with Bryan Burk in 2001,[5] Abrams created and executive-produced ABC's Alias and is co-creator (along with Damon Lindelof and Jeffrey Lieber) and executive producer of Lost. He later co-wrote the teleplay for Lost's third season premiere "A Tale of Two Cities." As with Felicity, Abrams also composed the opening theme music for Alias and Lost. In 2001, Abrams co-wrote and produced the thriller Joy Ride. In 2006, he served as executive producer of What About Brian and Six Degrees, also on ABC. Abrams directed and wrote the two-part pilot for Lost and remained active producer for the first half of the season. That same year, he made his feature directorial debut in 2006 with Mission: Impossible III, starring Tom Cruise. Abrams spoke at the TED conference in 2007.[6]

In 2008, Abrams produced the monster movie Cloverfield.[7] In 2009, he directed the science fiction film Star Trek,[8] which he produced with Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof. While it was speculated that they would be writing and producing an adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series of novels, they publicly stated in November 2009 that they were no longer looking to take on that project.[9] In 2008, Abrams co-created, executive produced, and co-wrote (along with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman) the FOX science fiction series Fringe, for which he also composed the theme music. He was featured in the 2009 MTV Movie Awards 1980s-style digital short "Cool Guys Don't Look at Explosions", with Andy Samberg and Will Ferrell, in which he plays a keyboard solo. NBC picked up Abrams's Undercovers as its first new drama series for the 2010–11 season.[10] However, it was subsequently cancelled by the network in November 2010.

In 2008, it was reported that Abrams purchased the rights to a New York Times article "Mystery on Fifth Avenue" about the renovation of an 8.5 million dollar co-op, a division of property originally owned by E. F. Hutton & Co. and Marjorie Merriweather Post, for six figures and was developing a film titled Mystery on Fifth Avenue, with Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot Productions,[11] and comedy writers Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky to write the adaptation. According to the article, a wealthy couple Steven B. Klinsky and Maureen Sherry purchased the apartment in 2003 and live there with their four children. Soon after purchasing the apartment, they hired young architectural designer Eric Clough, who devised an elaborately clever "scavenger hunt" built into the apartment that involved dozens of historical figures, a fictional book and a soundtrack, woven throughout the apartment in puzzles, riddles, secret panels, compartments, and hidden codes, without the couple's knowledge. The family didn't discover the embedded mystery until months after moving into the apartment.[12][13] After Abrams purchased the article, Clough left him an encrypted message in the wall tiles of a Christian Louboutin shoe store he designed in West Hollywood.[14]


J. J. Abrams speaking at San Diego Comic-Con International

He wrote and directed the Paramount science fiction thriller Super 8, starring Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning, while co-producing with Steven Spielberg and Bryan Burk; it was released on June 10, 2011.[15] Abrams directed the sequel to Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, released in May 2013.[16] On January 25, 2013, The Walt Disney Studios and Lucasfilm officially announced Abrams as director and producer of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh entry in the Star Wars film saga.[17] Disney/Lucasfilm also announced that Bryan Burk and Bad Robot Productions would produce the feature.[18]

Following the news that he would direct The Force Awakens, speculation arose as to Abrams's future with Paramount Pictures, with whom he had released all of his previously directed feature work, and which had a first-look deal with his Bad Robot Productions. Paramount vice-chairman Rob Moore stated that Abrams will continue to have a hand in the highly successful Star Trek and Mission: Impossible franchises going forward.[19] Abrams directed, produced, and co-wrote the screenplay for, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, working alongside Lawrence Kasdan, following the departure of co-writer Michael Arndt.[20] Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened in theaters on December 18, 2015. It grossed over $2 billion at the box office, making him the second director to make a $2 billion movie since James Cameron's Avatar.[21][22]

He served as producer of Star Trek Beyond in 2016.

Abrams announced at the 2013 D.I.C.E. Summit that Bad Robot Productions had made a deal with Valve Corporation to produce a film based on either the video game title Portal or Half-Life.[23] On September 9, 2013, it was announced that Abrams would release a novel, S., written by Doug Dorst. The book was released on October 29, 2013.[24]

Upcoming projects

In 2009, it was reported that Abrams and Bad Robot Productions would produce a film based on the Micronauts toy line.[25][26] As of December 2013, the film hasn't been made, but it is stated that the film is still in production.[27]

In January 2014, during the promotion of the TV series Believe, it was reported that Abrams was interested in making film adaptations of Alias, Lost and Felicity.[28]

In November 2015, it was reported that a sixth Mission: Impossible film was in the works and that Abrams was expected to return to produce the film, along Tom Cruise, Don Granger, David Ellison and Dana Goldberg.[29]

In January 2016, Abrams stated that he will produce the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VIII, which will premiere on December 15, 2017.[30] In July, Abrams reported that a fourth Star Trek installment was in the works and that he is confident that both Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Chris Hemsworth will return for the sequel.[31][32] In October, he also revealed that he was producing a film titled God Particle, that would serve as a sequel to 10 Cloverfield Lane.[33]

Refused projects

In 1989, Abrams met Steven Spielberg at a film festival, where Spielberg spoke about a possible Who Framed Roger Rabbit sequel, with Abrams as a possible writer and with Robert Zemeckis as producer.[34] Nothing came up from this project, although Abrams has some storyboards for a Roger Rabbit short.[34]

In July 2002, Abrams wrote a script for a possible fifth Superman film entitled Superman: Flyby.[35] Brett Ratner and McG entered into talks to direct,[36] although Abrams tried to get the chance to direct his own script.[37] However, the project was finally cancelled in 2004 and instead Superman Returns was released in 2006.

In November 2009, it was reported that Abrams and Bad Robot Productions were producing, along with Cartoon Network Movies, Warner Bros., Frederator Films and Paramount Pictures, a film adaptation of Samurai Jack.[38] However, in June 2012, series creator Genndy Tartakovsky stated that the production of the film was scrapped after Abrams' departure of the project for direct Star Trek.[39] For this and other reasons, Tartakovsky decided to make a new season instead of a feature film.

Personal life

Abrams is married to public relations executive Katie McGrath and has three children.[3][40] He resides in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California.[41][42] He is Jewish and his wife is Roman Catholic, and he sometimes takes his children to religious services on Jewish holidays.[43]

Abrams serves on the Creative Council of Represent.Us, a nonpartisan anti-corruption organization.[44]



Year Film Director Producer Writer Actor Notes
1982 Nightbeast Composer
Sound effects
1990 Taking Care of Business Yes
1991 Regarding Henry Yes Yes Yes Delivery Boy
1992 Forever Young Yes Yes Executive producer
1993 Six Degrees of Separation Yes Doug
1996 The Pallbearer Yes
Diabolique Yes Video Photographer #2
1997 Gone Fishin' Yes
1998 Armageddon Yes
1999 The Suburbans Yes Yes Rock Journalist
2001 Joy Ride Yes Yes
2006 Mission: Impossible III Yes Yes Feature directorial debut
Also digital artist
2008 Cloverfield Yes
2009 Star Trek Yes Yes
2010 Morning Glory Yes
2011 Super 8 Yes Yes Yes
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Yes
2013 Star Trek Into Darkness Yes Yes
2014 Infinitely Polar Bear Yes Executive producer
2015 Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Yes
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Yes Yes Yes Yes Vocal cameo
2016 10 Cloverfield Lane Yes
Star Trek Beyond Yes
2017 God Particle Yes Filming
Star Wars: Episode VIII Yes Executive producer


Year Title Credited as Notes
Writer Director Executive Producer Composer
1998–2002 Felicity Yes Yes Yes Yes Co-creator; writer (17 episodes), director (2 episodes), theme music co-composer
2001–2006 Alias Yes Yes Yes Yes Creator; writer (13 episodes), director (3 episodes), theme music composer
2004–2010 Lost Yes Yes Yes Yes Co-creator; writer (3 episodes), director (2 episodes), theme music composer
2005 The Catch Yes Yes Co-creator; Pilot
2006–2007 What About Brian Yes
Six Degrees Yes
2006 Jimmy Kimmel Live! Yes Episode guest directed:
"Episode #4.269"
2007 The Office Yes Episode directed:
2008–2013 Fringe Yes Yes Yes Co-creator; writer (6 episodes), theme music composer
2009 Anatomy of Hope Yes Yes Director; Pilot
2010 Undercovers Yes Yes Yes Yes Co-creator; writer (3 episodes), director (1 episode), theme music composer
2011–2016 Person of Interest Yes Yes Theme music composer
2012 Alcatraz Yes Yes Theme music composer
Shelter Yes Pilot[45]
Family Guy Guest star; episode:
"Ratings Guy"
2012–2014 Revolution Yes Yes Theme music composer
2013–2014 Almost Human Yes Yes Theme music composer
2014 Believe Yes
2015 Dead People Yes Pilot[46]
2016 11.22.63 Yes [47]
Westworld Yes [48]
Roadies Yes [49]

Music videos

Year Program Credit Notes
2009 "Cool Guys Don't Look at Explosions" Performer

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1999 Razzie Award Worst Screenplay Armageddon Nominated
2002 Emmy Award[50] Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Alias Nominated
2004 PGA Award Best Drama Nominated
2005 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Top TV Series Lost Won
Directors Guild of America Best Director Nominated
Emmy Award[50] Outstanding Directing for a Drama SeriesPilot Won
Outstanding Drama Series[50] Won
Outstanding Writing for a Drama SeriesPilot[50] Nominated
2006 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Top TV Series Won
PGA Award Best Drama Won
Writers Guild of America[51] Dramatic Series Won
2007 Saturn Award Best Director Mission: Impossible III Nominated
BAFTA Award Best International Lost Nominated
PGA Award Best Drama Nominated
Writers Guild of America Dramatic Series Nominated
2008 Emmy Award Outstanding Drama Series Nominated
2009 Emmy Award Outstanding Drama Series Nominated
Writers Guild of America Long Form Fringe Nominated
New Series Nominated
2010 Emmy Award[50] Outstanding Drama Series Lost Nominated
Saturn Award Best Director Star Trek Nominated
Empire Awards Best Director Nominated
PGA Award Theatrical Motion Picture Nominated
2012 Saturn Award Best Director Super 8 Won
Best Writing Nominated
2013 PGA Award Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television Won
2014 Saturn Award Best Director Star Trek Into Darkness Nominated
2016 Best Director Star Wars: The Force Awakens Nominated
Best Writing Won
Empire Awards Best Director Won

See also


  1. 1 2 "Carol Ann Abrams dies, Producer, author was mother of J.J. Abrams". Variety Magazine. June 5, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  2. J.J. Abrams: On Filmmaking. BAFTA Guru. May 8, 2013.
  3. 1 2 J.J Abrams Biography Archived February 15, 2011, at WebCite
  4. The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called DreamWorks pgs. 55–56
  5. Warner, Tyrone (May 11, 2010). "J.J. Abrams not worried about writers block on 'Fringe'". CTV. Archived from the original on July 26, 2010. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  6. "J.J. Abrams's mystery box". TED. March 24, 2011. Archived from the original on March 24, 2011. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  7. J.J. Abrams Talks Cloverfield Sequel Archived February 15, 2011, at WebCite
  8. J.J. Abrams on 'Cloverfield' Sequel, "We're Working on Something" Archived February 15, 2011, at WebCite
  9. "J.J. Abrams on Star Trek and Cloverfield 2". Comingsoon.net. February 23, 2008. Archived from the original on February 25, 2008. Retrieved February 23, 2008.
  10. "NBC Picks Up New J.J. Abrams Drama Series". TVGuide.com. Archived from the original on February 15, 2011.
  11. Seigel, Tatiana (June 17, 2008). "Paramount, Abrams keep house". Variety. Retrieved June 17, 2008.
  12. Reagan, Gillian. "J.J. Abrams to Produce NYT's Fifth Avenue Mystery". New York Observer. Retrieved June 18, 2008.
  13. Green, Penelope (June 12, 2008). "Mystery on Fifth Avenue". The New York Times.
  14. Schwartz, John (December 6, 2010). "Monumentally Mystifying: Power of Secrets Inspires Public Art". New York Times.
  15. Pamela McClintock (May 6, 2010). "Abrams, Spielberg confirmed for 'Super 8'". Variety. Archived from the original on February 15, 2011. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
  16. "J.J. Abrams Will Direct STAR TREK 2". NextNewMovies. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
  17. "It's official: Abrams to direct new 'Star Wars' film". CNN. January 26, 2013. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
  18. "Star Wars Is Being Kick-Started with Dynamite J.J. Abrams to Direct Star Wars: Episode VII". StarWars.com. January 25, 2013. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
  19. "J.J. Abrams directing 'Star Wars': What happens to 'Star Trek'?". The Los Angeles Times. January 25, 2013. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
  20. "J.J. Abrams to script as well as direct". Guardian UK. August 25, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  21. "'Star Wars: Episode VII' script delayed".
  22. "Disney Chief Reveals 'Star Wars: VII' Casting Almost Complete, Says Film Is Already Shooting (Video)". Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  23. Graser, Marc (February 6, 2013). "J.J. Abrams will develop 'Half-Life,' 'Portal' games into films". Variety. Retrieved February 26, 2013.
  24. "Stranger". Soonyouwillknow.com. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
  25. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB125737028160428961
  26. http://theplaylist.blogspot.pe/2009/11/jj-abrams-to-produce-micronauts.html
  27. http://www.movies.com/movie-news/39g-i-joe-retaliation39-writers-offer-updates-on-39cowboy-ninja-viking39-39micronauts39-39epsilon39-exclusive/11704
  28. http://www.eonline.com/news/501467/j-j-abrams-on-whether-felicity-lost-or-alias-movies-would-ever-happen
  29. http://deadline.com/2015/11/christopher-mcquarrie-mission-impossible-6-director-writer-1201646710/
  30. http://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-episode-viii-to-open-december-15-2017
  31. http://collider.com/star-trek-4-chris-hemsworth-jj-abrams/
  32. http://deadline.com/2016/07/star-trek-4-movie-set-chris-hemsworth-chris-pine-1201787943/
  33. http://www.slashfilm.com/god-particle-is-cloverfield-3/
  34. 1 2 http://www.slashfilm.com/who-framed-roger-rabbit-2/
  35. https://web.archive.org/web/20080216230219/http://www.impossiblefunky.com/archives/issue_15/15_superman.asp?IshNum=15
  36. http://www.ign.com/articles/2002/09/17/ratner-talks-superman
  37. http://variety.com/2004/film/markets-festivals/par-girding-up-for-war-1117908978/
  38. http://filmjunk.com/2009/11/19/j-j-abrams-producing-samurai-jack-the-movie/
  39. http://www.comingsoon.net/horror/news/727845-a-preview-of-sony-animations-hotel-transylvania
  40. "EW Gets the Stories Behind Those Goofy TV Production-Company Logos", Entertainment Weekly, December 7, 2001: "The title came to creator J.J. Abrams during a writers' meeting, and he recorded his children, Henry and Gracie (ages 2 and 3), saying the words into his Powerbook's microphone. 'That day in the office while editing,' says Abrams, 'I put together sound effects on my computer, burned a QuickTime movie on a CD, gave it to postproduction, and three days later it was on national television.'"
  41. "Jj Abrams, Katie McGrath 4th Annual Pink Party to... – Picture 2072721". Contactmusic.com. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
  42. Director J.J. Abrams and wife, actress Katie – Media (3 of 46) Movie Premieres: 'Star Trek,' 'Angels, "Director J.J. Abrams and wife, actress Katie McGrath, parade on the red carpet as they arrives at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood for the premiere of the movie 'Star Trek' in Los Angeles on April 30, 2009.
  43. Jewishjournal.com: Now It's J.J. Abrams’ Turn to 'Trek', accessed December 16, 2015
  44. "About | Represent.Us". End corruption. Defend the Republic. Retrieved 2016-11-01.
  45. CW Picks Up 3 More Drama Pilots Including JJ Abrams & Mark Schwahn's Shelter. Deadline.com. Retrieved February 24, 2012.
  46. Andreeva, Nellie. "Andrew J. West To Play The Lead In CW Pilot 'Dead People' From Bad Robot". Deadline. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  47. "Hulu Original "11.22.63" Premieres Presidents Day 2016". The Futon Critic. October 30, 2015. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  48. Gerard, Jeremy (August 9, 2015). "'Westworld' First Trailer: HBO Teases Series With Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris". Deadline.com. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  49. Littleton, Cynthia (October 14, 2015). "Showtime Gives Series Pickup to Cameron Crowe-J.J. Abrams Comedy 'Roadies'". Variety. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  50. 1 2 3 4 5 "The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences". Archived from the original on February 15, 2011. Retrieved February 18, 2008.
  51. "Awards Winners". Writers Guild of America. Archived from the original on January 18, 2010. Retrieved October 17, 2007.

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