It's no secret how Star Wars has touched the lives of passionate fans for the past decades. The Force Awakens is no exception. However, it isn't very public how the seventh film in the saga has touched the lives of terminally ill fans before its release.
In an interview with EW, director J.J. Abrams was asked about his favorite experiences with fans in the making of The Force Awakens. His answer was both heartbreaking and unexpected.
The 49-year-old director shared the story of the Star Wars fans whose dying wish was to see the movie.
You know, there are a lot of examples of passionate and excitable people but the most, I think, profound experience was that in the time before the movie came out — about a month before — we had a couple people go around to those fans who were not going to survive because of terminal illness until the movie came out.
The movie was screened probably two dozen or so times to various people who, tragically, were struck with illness that would prevent them from seeing the movie otherwise.
Apparently, a Lucasfilm or Bad Robot representative would even travel to the patient's home or hospital in order for him/her to see the film. Abrams would even introduce it to them himself.
The director said:
I would speak with these people before and after. Sometimes they were adults and other times they were children and it was always… it was the most profound thing to be reminded in such a clear and wonderful and heartbreaking way how important this world was that George Lucas created, what it meant to these people.
It wasn't only children. Some of those fans were adults who had an affection for Star Wars since childhood. This fact put Abrams into perspective about the creation of The Force Awakens.
It was a reminder to all of us how what we were doing was really important to so many people.
It was also a reminder about what was important in life with all the pressure and everyone always asking, ‘Oh, how do you deal with the pressure?' Then you talk to someone who's going through something like this, or a family member who's going through something like this, and you very quickly realize that this pressure [of making the movie] is nothing. This pressure is a luxury. And that was probably the most impactful type of experience with a Star Wars fan.
Most requests remain private, and Abrams said this is because they "didn't want it to turn into a publicity stunt," adding that "this was a quiet thing we were doing for people who will remain anonymous but it was you know… the exchanges and the conversations that we all had with these families and these people were really moving."
The director also shared about how happy he was seeing kids being as passionate about The Force Awakens as much as adults.
Hearing about kids fighting, boysandgirls fighting over who gets to play Rey when they playStar Wars. Things like that make me so happy.
In line with this, Abrams said the Force For Change charity drive, which raised approximately $10 million for UNICEF, was because of the fans, saying that he "thought the work that they did deserved to be talked about too."
More details on that at CrowdRise.com/ForceForChange.
Star Wars: Episode VIII is currently filming. The movie is slated for release on December 15, 2017. Meanwhile, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be released on December 16.
It's incredibly amazing to know these kinds of details about Star Wars. Knowing how George Lucas' story touched the lives of so many people makes one appreciate these classic narratives even more and puts us into perspective on what's truly important about these films.
You can read all of Abrams' thoughts in the full interview here.