In the wake of Disney and Lucasfilm hiring J.J. Abrams to director "Star Wars: Episode VII," some details have emerged about how the "Star Trek" director was convinced to come aboard.
According to Slashfilm's sources, Abrams was always Lucasfilm's first choice after Steven Spielberg declined. Furthermore, it would seem as if Spielberg himself was then the driving force behind Abrams's hiring, as he was "really pushing" Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy to pursue him.
Of course, Abrams initially declined the gig back in November and cited his loyalty to "Star Trek" as one of the reasons he wouldn't take the job. However, Spielberg was reportedly persistent and eventually convinced Kennedy and Abrams to "make it happen."
If this is true, this solidifies Abrams place as the heir apparent to the Amblin/Spielberg throne; if "Super 8" weren't enough proof that he desires to follow in the Bearded One's footsteps, then this certainly makes it obvious.
Abrams hasn't said much since accepting the job, but he did briefly speak to E! at the Producer's Guild Awards, where he called the opportunity an "incredible thing" and "wildly surreal." Of course, he was also hesitant to reveal any details about the film since "it's obviously way too early to talk specifics" (of course, for Abrams, it's always too early to do this--just look at how much mystery still surrounds "Star Trek Into Darkness").
Had Abrams not come aboard, Kennedy obviously had some back-up plans; some reports indicate that Matthew Vaughn made a pitch that may have included Chloe Moretz in the lead role. Whether or not this is an indication that "Episode VII" will feature a female protagonist is unclear, as this could have been Vaughn's own idea rather than Lucasfilm's.
Ben Affleck was also among the candidates in contention, but no reports have revealed just how close he came to directing the film.
At the moment, it's also unknown what Lucasfilm's plans are for the rest of the trilogy; for now, Abrams is on board for "Episode VII," but the studio hasn't committed to a plan of action beyond that. As such, it's possible that some of these other candidates may get their shot on "Episode VIII" or "Episode IX."
Meanwhile, the wait for "Episode VII" may be indefinite; while Disney initially set a 2015 release date for the film, Abrams hasn't committed to that. As such, the film could be pushed back.