Abrams was born in New York and raised in Los Angeles where he attended Palisades Charter High School. He is the son of television producer Gerald W. Abrams and executive producer Carol. Abrams, who is Jewish, attended Sarah Lawrence College.
Abrams's first job in the movie business started when he was 16 when he wrote music for Don Dohler's film Nightbeast. During his senior year at college, he teamed with Jill Mazursky to write a feature film treatment. Purchased by Touchstone Pictures, the treatment was the basis for Taking Care of Business, Abrams's first produced film, which starred Charles Grodin and Jim Belushi. He followed that up with Regarding Henry, starring Harrison Ford, and Forever Young, starring Mel Gibson.
Abrams collaborated with producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay on the 1998 film, Armageddon. That same year, he made his first foray into television with Felicity, which ran for four seasons on The WB Network, serving as the show's co-creator (with Matt Reeves) and executive producer. He also composed its opening theme music.
Under his production company Bad Robot, which he founded with Bryan Burk in 2001, Abrams created and executive-produced ABC's Alias and is co-creator (with Damon Lindelof) and executive producer of Lost. He later co-wrote the teleplay for Losts 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, and wrote an unproduced screenplay for a fifth Superman film in 2002.
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.
In 2008 Abrams produced the monster movie, Cloverfield. In 2009 he directed the science fiction film Star Trek, 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.
He is one of the creators of the Fox Network series Fringe, for which he again composed the theme music.
Abrams is 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.
The NBC network picked up Abrams's Undercovers as its first new drama series for the 2010–11 season. However, it was subsequently cancelled by NBC in November 2010. He wrote and directed Super 8, while co-producing with Steven Spielberg; it was released on June 10, 2011.
J.J. Abrams will return to the Directors' chair for The Untitled Star Trek Sequel - due for release by Summer 2013.
Abrams is married to public relations exec Katie McGrath and has three children: sons August and Henry and daughter Gracie. He resides in Pacific Palisades, California.
Abrams has made donations to the Democratic Party. Campaigns he has contributed to include those of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Bill Bradley, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Bob Casey, Jr., Mark Udall, Harry Reid, Russ Feingold, and Patrick J. Kennedy. However, he has also donated $2,000 to the Republican Robert Vasquez.
|Katie McGrath||(1996 - present) 3 children|
High-tech, action-packed entertainment
Often includes a subplot about a box with mysterious contents
Often uses music by Michael Giacchino
Often makes references to elements of the original "Star Trek" (1966) series
Usually includes a party scene early in the show/movie with young adults mixing and mingling.
Frequently casts Greg Grunberg and Amanda Foreman
His work often includes plotlines in which pregnant women get kidnapped by mysterious people or groups who eventually turn out to be trying to help the woman and/or her pregnancy--for example, "Alias" (2001), "Lost" (2004), "Fringe" (2008).
Frequent references to "Slusho", a fake frozen drink
Will sometimes go out of his way to add lens flairs in his shots, often having people stand off camera pointing lights at it
Is very secretive about the plot lines of his projects
Son of Gerald W. Abrams.
Graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1988.
He says he got the job directing Mission: Impossible III (2006) after Tom Cruise watched early episodes of "Alias" (2001) on DVD and loved them. The two started hanging out together and Cruise offered him the job.
Named one of Fade In Magazine's "100 People in Hollywood You Need to Know" in 2005
Has three children with wife Katie: Henry (b. 1998), Gracie (b. 1999) and August (b. 11 January 2006).
His debut film Mission: Impossible III (2006) was the most expensive film ever made by a first-time director until TRON: Legacy (2010), directed by Joseph Kosinski, which cost nearly $20 million more than MI3.
He had discussed wanting to be more involved in the 3rd season of "Lost" (2004) (intermittently with his film schedule) because he hadn't been directly involved in the show since the 6th episode of the first season.
Sold his script for Forever Young (1992) for $2 million.
He once worked as a home inspector in the San Fernando Valley with Jay Fesler and Dan Johnson.
One of 115 people invited to join AMPAS in 2007.
2007 - Ranked #29 on EW's The 50 Smartest People in Hollywood.
In 2007, Forbes Magazine estimated his earnings for the year at $17 million.
He has been involved with several projects that advance the social theory called the "Milgram Small World Phenomenon," named after social psychologist Stanley Milgram, who conducted acquaintance path experiments. John Guare's play "Six Degrees of Separation" (and its film adaptation, Six Degrees of Separation (1993)) is in large part responsible for introducing to pop culture at large the notion that everyone in the world is separated by only six other people (Abrams had a small acting role in the film version). Abrams went on to produce "Six Degrees" (2006), a TV show with a premise predicated on this theory, and "Lost" (2004), a TV show in which seemingly unconnected and disparate characters often end up having hidden or unknown links to each other.
Is a fan of Howard Stern, who is also a fan of of Abrams' work (particularly "Lost" (2004) and Star Trek (2009)) and personally called Artie Lange through his agent to congratulate him on his being hired to replace Jackie Martling ("The Joke Man") as a sidekick in 2002. Also gave Stern's daughters a tour of the "Felicity" (1998) set.
Best friend is Greg Grunberg. They have known each other since they were children and he frequently casts Grunberg in his films and TV shows.
Lives in Pacific Palisades, California.
In 2011, during an interview on the NPR program "Fresh Air with Terry Gross," writer/director Abrams told a story about getting to attend a very early rough-cut screening of Escape from New York (1981) with his father, producer Gerald W. Abrams (who knew that his then-15-year-old son was a big John Carpenter fan). Abrams told Gross that during the discussion afterward, Gerald suggested cutting an opening sequence in which Snake tries to rob a bank and is caught, on the principle that Snake seems like a more imposing, mythic, tougher character if you don't see him defeated right away. Young J.J. suggested making it clearer that Adrienne Barbeau's character Maggie dies at the end. Both suggestions were followed in the final cut: the opening scene was deleted, and a shot was added showing Maggie's body.
The first director to direct both a Star Trek and Star Wars movie.
Star Wars (1977) is probably the most influential film of my generation. It's the personification of good and evil and the way it opened up the world to space adventure, the way westerns had to our parents' generations, left an indelible imprint. So, in a way, everything that any of us does is somehow directly or indirectly affected by the experience of seeing those first three films.
I feel like in telling stories, there are the things the audience thinks are important, and then there are the things that are actually important.
Directing's the best part. Whenever I've directed something, there's this feeling of demand and focus that I like. And secondly, it means that you've gotten through all the writing stuff, and the producing stuff, and casting, and prep, and all those stages that are seemingly endless. So directing is sort of the reward for all the work you put in before. And then there's the editing, which is another amazing stage of the process. It's incredible the moments you can create.
I'm an impatient guy and tend not to like to stay with one thing for a long time. I'll never be able to write as many scripts as I did for "Felicity" (1998) or "Alias" (2001) ever again. I'm just too impatient these days. I want to get on to the next project.
I've always liked working on stories that combine people who are relatable with something insane. The most exciting thing for me is crossing that bridge between something we know is real and something that is extraordinary. The thing for me has always been how you cross that bridge..
There's something about looking at Super 8 films that is so evocative. You could argue it's the resolution of the film somehow because they aren't crystal clear and perfect,so there is a kind of gauzy layer between you and what you see. You could argue it's the silence of them. You could say it's the sound of the projector that creates a moodiness. But there's something about looking at analog movies that's infinitely more powerful than digital.
[on missing writing "Felicity" (1998)] I miss writing for a show that doesn't have any sort of odd, almost sci-fi bend to it. It was just sort of pure romantic, sweet characters who had crushes on one another and were dealing with which party to go to and if they had a part-time job or not--stuff that was kind of fun to write about.
When I was a kid and saw Star Wars (1977) for the first time it blew my mind and around the same time I had friends who were huge fans of Star Trek and I don't know if I was smart enough to get it, or patient enough. What I loved about Star Wars (1977) was the visceral energy of it, the clarity of it, the kind of innocence and big heart of it. Star Trek always felt a little bit more sophisticated and philosophical, debating moral dilemmas and things that were theoretically interesting, but for some reason I couldn't get on board. It really took working with all these guys and actually working on Star Trek for me to fall in love with that.
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