J.J. Abrams

J.J. Abrams Biography

Jeffrey Jacob "J. J." Abrams (born June 27, 1966) is an American film and television producer, screenwriter, director, actor and composer. He is well known for his work in the genres of action, drama and science fiction.

Abrams wrote and produced feature films before co-creating the television series Felicity (1998"2002). He also created Alias (2001"2006) and co-created Lost (2004"2010), Fringe (2008"2013), Undercovers (2010) and produced the television series Person of Interest (2011"present) and Revolution (2012"present), among others.

His directorial film work includes two Star Trek films; Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), along with Mission: Impossible III (2006) and Super 8 (2011). He will also direct Star Wars Episode VII (2015), the first film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Abrams produced the films Cloverfield (2008), Morning Glory (2010), and Mission: Impossible " Ghost Protocol (2011). He also played a role in the film Six Degrees of Separation.

Many of the films he has directed or produced are distributed by Paramount Pictures, while his television series were co-produced by either Warner Bros. Television or Touchstone Television. Abrams' frequent creative collaborators include writers Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci, composer Michael Giacchino, cinematographers Daniel Mindel & Larry Fong, and editors Maryann Brandon & Mary Jo Markey.

Early life

Abrams was born in New York City and raised in Los Angeles, where he attended Palisades High School. He is the son of television producer Gerald W. Abrams and executive producer Carol Ann Abrams (née Kelvin). His sister is screenwriter Tracy Rosen. Abrams is Jewish and attended Sarah Lawrence College.


Abrams' 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' first produced film, which starred Charles Grodin and James Belushi. He followed that up 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.

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 (along with Damon Lindelof and Jeffrey Lieber) 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.

In 2008, he co-created, executive produced, and co-wrote (along with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman) the FOX science fiction series Fringe, for which he composed the theme music as well.

Abrams 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' 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 the Paramount supernatural movie Super 8, while co-producing with Steven Spielberg and Bryan Burk; it was released on June 10, 2011.

Abrams directed the sequel to Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, released in May 2013.

Under development (due in 2013) is Abrams' film with Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot Productions, Mystery on Fifth Avenue. It is based on the 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 and Marjorie Merriweather Post. In 2008, it was widely reported Abrams purchased the rights to the Times article for six figures, and enlisted 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. 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.

Abrams will produce, under Bad Robot and with Bryan Burk, Earthquake for Universal Pictures. The film is being scripted by Academy Award winner Dustin Lance Black, and while it shares a title and event with Universal's 1974 feature starring Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner, it will not be a remake.

On January 25, 2013, The Walt Disney Studios and Lucasfilm officially announced Abrams as director and producer of Star Wars Episode VII, the latest entry in the Star Wars film saga. Disney/Lucasfilm also announced that Bryan Burk and Bad Robot Productions would be producing the feature.

Following the news that he would indeed direct Star Wars Episode VII, speculation arose as to Abrams' future with Paramount Pictures, with whom he has released all of his previously directed feature work and which has 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.

Abrams announced at the 2013 D.I.C.E. Conference that Bad Robot has made a deal with Valve Corporation to produce films based on the video game titles Portal and Half-Life.

On September 9, 2013, it was announced that Abrams will be releasing a novel, S., written by Doug Dorst. The book will be released on October 29, 2013.

Personal life

Abrams is married to public relations executive Katie McGrath and has three children: sons August and Henry and daughter Gracie. He resides in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California.

Campaigns he has contributed to include those of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Sestak, Bill Bradley, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Bob Casey, Jr., Mark Udall, Harry Reid, Russ Feingold, Patrick J. Kennedy and Tim Kaine. However, he has also donated $2,000 to the Republican Robert Vasquez.


Feature credits

Year Film Director Producer Writer Actor Notes
1990 Taking Care of Business
1991 Regarding Henry also co-producer
1992 Forever Young also executive producer
1993 Six Degrees of Separation Doug
1996 The Pallbearer
1997 Gone Fishin'
1998 Armageddon
The Suburbans
2001 Joy Ride
2006 Mission: Impossible III
2008 Cloverfield
2009 Star Trek
2010 Morning Glory
2011 Super 8
Mission: Impossible " Ghost Protocol
2013 Star Trek Into Darkness
2015 Star Wars Episode VII pre-production
TBA Untitled Star Trek 3 In-Development
TBA Untitled Mission: Impossible 5 In-Development

Television credits

Year Program Credit Notes
1998"2002 Felicity co-creator, writer, executive producer, director, co-composer of theme music
2001"2006 Alias creator, writer, executive producer, director, theme music composer
2005 The Catch creator, executive producer
2004"2010 Lost co-creator, executive producer, writer, theme music composer, director
2007 The Office guest director Season 3, Episode 18
2006"2007 What About Brian executive producer
Six Degrees executive producer
2006 Jimmy Kimmel Live! guest director
2008"2013 Fringe co-creator, executive producer, theme music composer, writer
2009 Anatomy of Hope executive producer, writer, director pilot
2010 Undercovers co-creator, executive producer, writer, director, theme music composer
2011"present Person of Interest executive producer, theme music composer
2012 Alcatraz executive producer, theme music composer
Shelter executive producer pilot
Family Guy guest star episode: Ratings Guy
2012"present Revolution executive producer
2013 Almost Human co-creator, executive producer pilot
Believe producer pilot
The Stops Along the Way director miniseries based on Rod Serling's screenplay

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1999 Razzie Award Worst Screenplay Armageddon
2002 Emmy Award Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Alias
2004 PGA Award Best Drama Alias
2005 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Top TV Series Lost
Directors Guild of America Best Director Lost
Emmy Award Best Director Lost
Outstanding Drama Series Lost
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Lost
2006 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Top TV Series Lost
PGA Award Best Drama Lost
Writers Guild of America Dramatic Series Lost
2007 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Best Director Mission: Impossible III
BAFTA Award Best International Lost
PGA Award Best Drama Lost
Writers Guild of America Dramatic Series Lost
2008 Emmy Award Outstanding Drama Series Lost
2009 Emmy Award Outstanding Drama Series Lost
Writers Guild of America Long Form Fringe
New Series Fringe
2010 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Best Director Star Trek
Emmy Award Outstanding Drama Series Lost
Empire Awards Best Director Star Trek
PGA Award Theatrical Motion Picture Star Trek
2012 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Best Director Super 8
Best Writing Super 8
2013 PGA Award Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television

See also

  • Saturn Award for Best Director

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