J.J. Abrams also opened up about breaking his back while trying to save an injured Harrison Ford during filming

By Andrea Park
Updated December 01, 2015 01:30 PM
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Credit: Donna Ward/Getty

From Broadway to a galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams said a trip to see the wildly popular Hamilton on Broadway led to an unexpected – and “unbelievable” – collaboration.

While visiting The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Monday, Abrams hinted that the force was with him when he went to see the acclaimed musical and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda approached him during intermission to offer his services for the highly anticipated Star Wars sequel.

“[He] comes up to me and he says, ‘Hey, if you need music for the cantina, I’ll write it.’ And he walks off. And I’m like, ‘Does he know?’ ” said Abrams excitedly, calling Miranda’s talent “beyond belief.”

The director said the offer was fortuitous because acclaimed Star Wars composer John Williams was asking for a bit of assistance.

“Basically, we have a scene that’s sort of our version of the cantina scene,” he told Fallon. “John Williams, the master composer, said, ‘J.J., baby, I’d rather not write the music for that scene because I’d rather write the score.”

Abrams continued: “I end up emailing Lin-Manuel Miranda and I say, ‘I know you were kidding but if you actually want to write this music, I’m actually working on something if you want,’ ” Abrams, 49, recalled. “He’s like, ‘I’ll drop everything!’ I’m like, ‘All right!’

“He and I were sending back and forth music files and he’s singing and playing instruments,” Abrams said. “This whole thing was nuts. And now, in the movie, in this one sequence is music that Lin-Manuel Miranda and I wrote. We’ve never discussed this before, so he might kill me for revealing this. The guy is unbelievable!”

Abrams also got candid about breaking his back while attempting to assist Harrison Ford during filming. After a door crushed Ford and broke his ankle, Abrams tried to help free the actor in a sort of Hulk move gone wrong.

“The door goes down and it is this hydraulic door, which apparently – and this is a lesson – won’t come up when you try to lift it,” he said. “It felt like I was doing one of those Incredible Hulk lifting the car off a friend, someone you love, except for I was not the Hulk, there was no gamma radiation, I couldn’t lift the door and I broke my back. I felt this pop. I was like, ‘Well, that hurts.’ ”

After a week of pain, Abrams finally went to the doctor.

“He did a scan and he was explaining to me how everything was fine, but then as he was saying it looking at the scan, he was like, ‘Oh, dear! You fractured your L4 [vertebrae],’ ” Abrams said.

The director added that a broken ankle couldn’t keep Ford down for long.

“He was back a few months later running,” Abrams said. “He had more energy than anyone on the set. He literally is an unstoppable, unbelievable, brilliant and sweet man.”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

hits theaters Dec. 18.