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Last Year J.J. Abrams Said He Was Done Directing Star Wars Films. He Was Wrong

There was a great disturbance in the Force Tuesday, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in joy and naysayers were suddenly silenced. But no one may have been more surprised by the news that J.J. Abrams was returning to write and direct Star Wars: Episode IX than Abrams himself.

Abrams, of course, was responsible for bringing the franchise back to life in 2015 with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but after that film, he said had no plans to helm another one.

“It was a wonderful way to visit a place that meant so much to me and obviously so many,” Abrams told Fortune in 2016. “I knew that if it worked, it was the perfect time to step down – and if it didn’t, no one would want me to do it anyway.”

Abrams never completely walked away, of course. He remained executive producer of Episode Eight and Nine – and said he was happy with that role, noting that others were “doing all of the heavy lifting.”

Now that lifting is back on his shoulders. And it’s going to make him even busier than usual. Beyond Star Wars, Abrams is still executive producer of HBO’s Westworld, is currently filming the sixth Mission Impossible film, is in post-production on another Cloverfield film and is working on a Hulu project with Stephen King called Castle Rock.

Also in the hopper is the long-gestating onscreen adaptation of the Half-Life video games. In our 2016 interview, Abrams said writers are working on those stories, but he had intentionally avoiding putting a deadline on those projects.

”The timeline is to get it right,” he said.