After the J.J. Abrams news broke out, a lot of folks were in shock—wait, he's going to direct both Star Trek and Star Wars? And, more importantly, didn't J.J. say he wasn't going to do Star Wars, anyway? What happened; how was he convinced?
In a profile about Kathleen Kennedy, The Hollywood Reporter reveals that the way Lucasfilm got J.J. to say yes was surprisingly simple and direct. Kennedy—the president of Lucasfilm and brand manager to Star Wars—asked for a meeting with Abrams, who initially stated he was too busy to consider the job.
They met anyway, and here was her amazingly simple pitch: "Please do Star Wars."
She also told Abrams that she had Michael Arndt, behind Toy Story 3, as well as Lawrence Kasdan, behind The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi onboard—news which apparently made Abrams flip out and more eager to work on the project.
Sure, Abrams still had his reservations: mainly how filming outside of LA—his residence—would affect his home life, and he knew what the daunting drawbacks to approaching a pre-existing franchise were.
"We spent a lot of time talking about how meaningful Star Wars is and the depth of the mythology that George has created and how we carry that into the next chapter," Kennedy explained. And, eventually, she won him over.
"I learned firsthand how incredible and persuasive she is," Abrams stated.
Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy on 'Star Wars,' 'Lincoln' and Secret J.J. Abrams Meetings [The Hollywood Reporter]