Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been shrouded in secrecy since production began last yaer, and though spoilers abound, director J.J. Abrams managed to keep one of them under wraps until he appeared on NBC's The Tonight Show Monday.
"I saw Hamilton, the play, which is amazing. It's an incredible musical. Beyond belief! I go to see this show with our son and at intermission, Lin-Manuel Miranda who wrote it and conceived it and normally stars in it—he wasn't in it that night—comes up to me and he says hello. And my mind is blown because he's so brilliant," Abrams told host Jimmy Fallon. "And he says, 'Hey, if you need music for the cantina, I'll write it.' And walks off. I'm like, 'Does he know?'"
Abrams explained that the seventh installment in the series has a special nod to 1977's Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. "Basically, we have a scene that's sort of our version of the cantina scene. 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,'" he said. "I end up e-mailing 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.' He's like, 'I'll drop everything!' I'm like, 'All right!'"
The director hailed Miranda as a "genius" composer. "He and I were sending back and forth music files and he's singing and playing instruments. This whole thing was nuts. And now, in the movie, in this one sequence is music that Lin-Manuel Miranda and I wrote," he revealed. "We've never discussed this before, so he might kill me for revealing this. The guy is unbelievable!"
Abrams also discussed the injuries that both he and Harrison Ford sustained on set. Regarding Ford, he said, "This door went down and pushed him down. He broke his ankle. It literally went like 90 degrees. It was pretty brutal." In an effort to help the actor, Abrams hopped aboard the Millennium Falcon. "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. 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.' A week later I went to the doctor because I thought, 'Well, it's nothing,' but it kept staying there. 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.'"
Ford had to take some time off to recuperate.
"He's just so badass," Fallon said. "He doesn't care."
"Well, sort of," Abrams said. "He was back a few months later running. He had more energy than anyone on the set. He literally is an unstoppable, unbelievable, brilliant and sweet man."
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon airs weeknights at 11:35.
(E! and NBC are both members of the NBCUniversal family.)