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J. J. Abrams
J. J. Abrams by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Abrams at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con
Jeffrey Jacob Abrams

(1966-06-27) June 27, 1966 (age 55)
New York City, New York, U.S.
EducationPalisades Charter High School
Alma materSarah Lawrence College
  • Director
  • producer
  • screenwriter
  • composer
Years active1982–present
Katie McGrath
(m. 1996)
Children3, including Gracie
Parent(s)Gerald W. Abrams
Carol Ann Kelvin

Jeffrey Jacob Abrams (born June 27, 1966)[1] is an American film director, producer, screenwriter and composer. He is known for his work in the genres of action, drama, and science fiction. Abrams wrote and produced such films as Regarding Henry (1991), Forever Young (1992), Armageddon (1998), Cloverfield (2008), Star Trek (2009), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019).

Abrams has created numerous television series, including Felicity (co-creator, 1998–2002), Alias (creator, 2001–2006), Lost (co-creator, 2004–2010), and Fringe (co-creator, 2008–2013). He won two Emmy Awards for LostOutstanding Directing for a Drama Series and Outstanding Drama Series.

His directorial film work includes Mission: Impossible III (2006), Star Trek (2009), Super 8 (2011), and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). He also directed, produced and co-wrote The Force Awakens, the seventh episode of the Star Wars saga and the first film of the sequel trilogy. The film is his highest-grossing, as well as the fourth-highest-grossing film of all time not adjusted for inflation. He returned to Star Wars by executive producing The Last Jedi (2017), and directing and co-writing The Rise of Skywalker (2019).[2]

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

Early life

Abrams was born to Jewish parents and raised in New York City[1] and in Los Angeles. He is the son of television producer Gerald W. Abrams (born 1939) and executive producer Carol Ann Abrams (née Kelvin; 1942–2012).[3] His sister is screenwriter Tracy Rosen.[3] He attended Palisades High School. After graduating from high school, Abrams planned on going to art school rather than a traditional college, but eventually enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College, following his father's advice: "it's more important that you go off and learn what to make movies about than how to make movies."[4]

Film career

Early career

Abrams' first job in the movie business was at age 16 when he wrote the music for Don Dohler's 1982 horror movie Nightbeast. During his senior year at college, he teamed with Jill Mazursky to write a feature film treatment.[5] Purchased by Touchstone Pictures, the treatment was the basis for Taking Care of Business, Abrams' 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. They were contracted by Jeffrey Katzenberg to develop animation for the film Shrek.[6] 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 2010 Time 100 Gala in Manhattan
Abrams at the 2010 Time 100 Gala in Manhattan

Under his production company, Bad Robot, which he founded with Bryan Burk in 2001,[7] Abrams created and executive-produced ABC's Alias and is co-creator (along with Damon Lindelof and Jeffrey Lieber) and was executive producer of Lost. As with Felicity, Abrams also composed the opening theme music for Alias and Lost. Abrams directed and wrote the two-part pilot for Lost and remained active producer for the first half of the season. Also in 2001, Abrams co-wrote and produced the horror-thriller Joy Ride.[8] In 2006, he served as executive producer of What About Brian and Six Degrees, also on ABC. He also co-wrote the teleplay for Lost's third-season premiere "A Tale of Two Cities" and the same year, he made his feature directorial debut with Mission: Impossible III, starring Tom Cruise. Abrams spoke at the TED conference in 2007.[9]

In 2008, Abrams produced the monster movie Cloverfield, which Matt Reeves directed.[10] In 2009, he directed the science fiction film Star Trek,[11] 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.[12] 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.[13] However, it was subsequently cancelled by the network in November 2010.

Abrams speaking at San Diego Comic-Con International in 2010
Abrams speaking at San Diego Comic-Con International in 2010


Abrams 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.[14]

Abrams directed the sequel to Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, released in May 2013.[15] The film was interpreted as a loose remake of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.[16] Critics generally reacted positively to the film, while Nicholas Meyer, the director of The Wrath of Khan, called it a "gimmick".[17] Abrams was criticized for the film's treatment of classic villain Khan Noonien Singh (Benedict Cumberbatch). Many felt that much of the character, originally played by Mexican actor Ricardo Montalban, had been lost, especially his ethnic identity.[a] Two years after the film's release, Abrams said of the film, "there were certain things I was unsure of. ... Any movie ... has a fundamental conversation happening during it. And [for Into Darkness,] I didn't have it... [The weakness of the plot] was not anyone's fault but mine. ... [The script] was a little bit of a collection of scenes that were written by my friends ... And yet, I found myself frustrated by my choices, and unable to hang my hat on an undeniable thread of the main story. So then I found myself on that movie basically tap-dancing as well as I could to try and make the sequences as entertaining as possible. ... I would never say that I don't think that the movie ended up working. But I feel like it didn't work as well as it could have, had I made some better decisions before we started shooting."[19]

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.[20] It was also announced that Bryan Burk and Bad Robot Productions would produce the feature.[21] Following the news that he would direct The Force Awakens, speculation arose as to Abrams's future with Paramount Pictures, under which he had released all of his previous feature work as a director, and which had a first-look deal with his company, Bad Robot Productions. Paramount vice-chairman Rob Moore stated that Abrams would continue to have a hand in the Star Trek and Mission: Impossible franchises going forward.[22]

Abrams directed, produced, and co-wrote the screenplay for The Force Awakens,[23] which opened in theaters on December 18, 2015, and grossed over $2 billion at the box office, making Abrams the first director of a $2 billion movie since James Cameron.[24][25] Despite its strong box office performance and positive reviews, the film was considered by some, including Star Wars creator George Lucas, to be too similar to the original 1977 film.[26][27] In 2016, Abrams responded towards these complaints, stating: "What was important for me was introducing brand new characters using relationships that were embracing the history that we know to tell a story that is new — to go backwards to go forwards".[28][b]

Abrams returned as producer for Star Trek Beyond, released in 2016. And also produced The Cloverfield Paradox, a sequel to 10 Cloverfield Lane. It was released on Netflix in February 2018.[30][31] Also on 2018, Abrams produced Overlord, a horror film set behind German enemy lines in World War II and directed by Julius Avery.[32] Abrams also produced the fourth, fifth, and sixth Mission: Impossible films.[33]

In September 2017, it was announced by Lucasfilm's president, Kathleen Kennedy, that Abrams would be returning to direct and co-write Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker with Chris Terrio.[34] The film was released in December 2019; it received mixed reviews from critics and fans,[35][36] while audience reactions leaned more positively.[37][38]

Upcoming projects

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,[39] 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.[40][41] 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.[42]

Abrams announced at the 2013 D.I.C.E. Summit that Bad Robot Productions had made a deal with Valve to produce a film based on either the video game title Portal or Half-Life.[43]

In July 2016, Abrams reported that a fourth alternate universe Star Trek installment was in the works and that he is confident that Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Chris Hemsworth will return for the sequel.[44][45]

In February 2018, HBO ordered Abrams' sci-fi drama Demimonde to series.[46]

In May 2018, Abrams and Avery had reunited to produce and direct, respectively, a superhero thriller film titled The Heavy, with a script written by Daniel Casey. Paramount and Bad Robot plan to begin filming sometime in 2018.[47]

Abrams will produce and Guillermo del Toro will write and direct a science-fiction action/thriller film titled Zanbato,[48] which Abrams has been working on since 2011.[49]

In September 2019, Abrams and his Bad Robot Productions company signed a $250 million five-year deal with WarnerMedia, including HBO and Warner Bros. Pictures.[50] In April 2020, it was announced that Abrams would be developing three new shows for HBO Max: Justice League Dark, Overlook, and Duster.[51]

Unrealized 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.[52] Nothing came up from this project, although Abrams has some storyboards for a Roger Rabbit short.[52]

In July 2002, Abrams wrote a script for a possible fifth Superman film entitled Superman: Flyby.[53] Brett Ratner and McG entered into talks to direct,[54] although Abrams tried to get the chance to direct his own script.[55] 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.[56] However, in June 2012, series creator Genndy Tartakovsky stated that the production of the film was scrapped after Abrams' departure from the project to direct Star Trek.[57] For this and other reasons, Tartakovsky decided to make a new season instead of a feature film. Also in 2009, it was reported that Abrams and Bad Robot Productions would produce a film based on the Micronauts toy line.[58][59] However, a film has never gone into production.[60]

Other work

Video game

In November 2015, it was announced that Abrams was developing video game called Spyjinx, in a collaboration between Bad Robot Productions And Chair Entertainment.[61][62]

Books and comics

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.[63]

In 2019, Abrams made his debut as a writer for Marvel Comics, co-authoring the company's title Spider-Man from September of that year with his son Henry.[64] The first issue of the comic includes the death of Mary-Jane Watson, and a twelve-year time shift, with the series' protagonist being Ben Parker, son of Peter Parker and Mary Jane.[65]

Personal life

Abrams is married to public relations executive Katie McGrath and has three children.[5][66] His daughter, Gracie Abrams, is a pop singer-songwriter.[67] He resides in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California.[68][69] He is Jewish and his wife is Roman Catholic, and he sometimes takes his children to religious services on Jewish holidays.[70]

Abrams serves on the Creative Council of Represent.Us, a nonpartisan anti-corruption organization[71] and the Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF) Board of Governors [72]



Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Producer Writer
1990 Taking Care of Business No No Yes Co-writer with Jill Mazursky
1991 Regarding Henry No Co-Producer Yes
1992 Forever Young No Executive Yes
1997 Gone Fishin' No No Yes Co-writer with Jill Mazursky
1998 Armageddon No No Yes Co-screenwriter with Jonathan Hensleigh
2001 Joy Ride No Yes Yes Co-writer with Clay Tarver
2006 Mission: Impossible III Yes No Yes Directorial debut; co-writer with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci
2009 Star Trek Yes Yes No
2011 Super 8 Yes Yes Yes
2013 Star Trek Into Darkness Yes Yes No
2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Yes Yes Yes Co-writer with Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt
2019 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Yes Yes Yes Co-writer with Chris Terrio

Producer only

Executive producer

Acting credits

Year Title Role
1991 Regarding Henry Delivery Boy
1993 Six Degrees of Separation Doug
1996 Diabolique Video Photographer #2
1999 The Suburbans Rock Journalist
2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Vocal cameo
2017 The Disaster Artist Himself
2019 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker D-O (voice)

Other roles

Year Title Role
1982 Nightbeast Composer / Sound effects composer
1995 Casper Uncredited rewrites[73]
2006 Mission: Impossible III Digital artist
2019 Love, Antosha Documentary film; appears as himself


Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Executive Producer Writer Creator Theme
1998–2002 Felicity Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Director (2 episodes) / Writer (17 episodes)
2001–06 Alias Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Director (3 episodes) / Writer (13 episodes)
2004–10 Lost Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Director (2 episodes) / Writer (3 episodes)
2006 Jimmy Kimmel Live! Yes No No No No Episode: "4.269"
2007 The Office Yes No No No No Episode: "Cocktails"
2008–13 Fringe No Yes Yes Yes Yes Writer (6 episodes)
2010 Undercovers Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Director (1 episode) / Writer (3 episodes)
2011–16 Person of Interest No Yes No No Yes
2012 Alcatraz No Yes No No Yes
2012–14 Revolution No Yes No No Yes
2013–14 Almost Human No Yes No No Yes
TBA Demimonde No Yes Yes Yes No
Duster No Yes Yes Yes No

Executive producer only

Acting credits

Year Title Role Notes
2012 Family Guy Himself Voice; Episode: "Ratings Guy"
2017 Nightcap Episode: "The Show Might Go on, Part 2"
Tour de Pharmacy Television film
2021 The Simpsons Episode: "Do Pizza Bots Dream of Electric Guitars"


Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Writer Producer
2017 The Play That Goes Wrong No No Yes Broadway version


Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1999 Razzie Award Worst Screenplay Armageddon Nominated
2002 Emmy Award[75] 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[75] Outstanding Directing for a Drama SeriesPilot Won
Outstanding Drama Series[75] Won
Outstanding Writing for a Drama SeriesPilot[75] Nominated
2006 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Top TV Series Won
PGA Award Best Drama Won
Writers Guild of America[76] 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 Nominated
Writers Guild of America Long Form Fringe Nominated
New Series Nominated
Scream Awards Best Director Star Trek Won
2010 Saturn Award Best Director Nominated
Empire Awards Best Director Nominated
PGA Award Theatrical Motion Picture Nominated
SFX Awards Best Director Won
Hugo Awards Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form Nominated
Emmy Award[75] Outstanding Drama Series Lost Nominated
2011 Scream Award Best Director Super 8 Nominated
Best Scream-Play Won
BAM Awards Best Director Nominated
Best Screenplay Won
2012 Saturn Award Best Director Won
Best Writing Nominated
SFX Awards Best Director Nominated
2013 PGA Award Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television Won
2014 Saturn Award Best Director Star Trek Into Darkness Nominated
2016 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Nominated
Best Writing Won
Empire Awards Best Director Won
Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film Won
Best Film Nominated
Critics' Choice Movie Awards Best Picture Nominated
Jupiter Awards Best International Film Won
Hugo Awards Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form Nominated

See also


  1. ^ Khan is an explicitly non-white character in the Star Trek canon, introduced as a Sikh and former ruler of much of eastern Eurasia.[18]
  2. ^ In 2017, Abrams said he would not do more remakes or reboots, to instead focus on his own creations, saying: "You know, I do think that if you're telling a story that is not moving anything forward, not introducing anything that's relevant, that's not creating a new mythology or an extension of it, then a complete remake of something feels like a mistake."[29]


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Further reading

External links

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