J.J. Abrams — Jeffrey Jacob ‘J. J.’ Abrams (born June 27, 1966) is an American film and television producer, screenwriter, director, actor, and composer, best known for his work in the genres of action, drama, and science fiction. He 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–present), Undercovers (2010) and produced the television series Person of Interest (2011–present) and Alcatraz (2012-present). Abrams directed the films Mission: Impossible III (2006), Star Trek (2009), and Super 8 (2011), and produced the films Cloverfield (2008), Morning Glory (2010) and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011). Many of his films he directed/produced are by Paramount, while many of his television series were co-produced by Warner Bros.
Abrams was born in New York City and raised in Los Angeles, where he attended Palisades Charter High School. He is the son of television producer Gerald W. Abrams and executive producer Carol Abrams. Abrams is Jewish, and attended Sarah Lawrence College.
Abrams’s 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’s first produced film, which starred Charles Grodin and Jim Belushi. He followed that up with Regarding Henry, starring Harrison Ford, and Forever Young, starring Mel Gibson.
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 Lost’s 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 for as well.
Abrams is 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.
The NBC network picked up Abrams’s 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 blockbuster Super 8, while co-producing with Steven Spielberg and Bryan Burk; it was released on June 10, 2011.
Abrams is currently directing the untitled sequel to Star Trek. The film is scheduled for release in May 2013.
Abrams is married to public relations exec Katie McGrath and has three children: sons August and Henry and daughter Gracie. He resides in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California, United States.
Abrams has made donations to the Democratic Party. Campaigns he has contributed to include those of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, 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.