Hollywood, CA — Acclaimed director, producer and writer J.J. Abrams issued an apology to Star Wars: The Force Awakens fans for using ISIS members as a part of the film’s extras. Although Mr. Abrams wasn’t aware of it at the time, his second filming unit which was located in the United Arab Emirate of Abu Dhabi had hired as many as 27 young men as extras who later turned out to be members of the terrorist organization ISIS.
“Mr. Abrams was unaware of this gaffe,” said Bethany Millbright, the spokeswoman for Bad Robot Productions, J.J. Abrams’ production company. “He isn’t involved in the day-to-day operations of the film. The hiring of extras was left to the second unit casting director who was stationed in the United Arab Emirates. He wasn’t aware of this issue either. Obviously if the production crew was aware that ISIS terrorists were a part of the filming, they would have been terminated. Regardless of that, Mr. Abrams is very sorry for this mistake.”
The ISIS extras were featured when character “Finn,” played by John Boyega is out on the Abu Dhabi. They can be seen in the background waving flags as he makes his way across the desert. Although they are only featured for approximately 37 seconds, sources close to Bad Robot Productions say they were paid as much as $175 dollars for their participation. Added together, the production company paid ISIS as much as $5000.00 for their participation.
It is unclear why ISIS would be interested in participating in the Star Wars franchise. Experts have speculated that it was an attempt to gain attention to their movement. Other experts, like University of Chicago’s Professor James Badwater was more pragmatic about their motives:
“It’s quite possible that some of the terrorists wanted to be a part of the film,” said Professor Badwater in a Gish Gallop telephone interview. “This may sound peculiar, but they might have been fans. I know this runs contrary to the core philosophy of removing all the vestiges of modern, western culture, but it’s quite possible they may have put aside their strident beliefs for a month or two to join a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s Star Wars, after all.”
Not everyone is convinced that the ISIS extras’ goals were benevolent.
“Look,” said Brock Whalen of Penn Valley outside his Lake Wildwood home, “It’s clear ISIS is trying to send us a message. They don’t have to attack and blow things up to get their point across. Just the idea of them is enough to scare us. Think about it. They’re embedded in a film that will be watched hundreds of years from now. So no, they didn’t do any kind of suicide bombings or anything like that. But this was a huge marketing coup for them. And to have J.J. Abrams apologize for it? Well, I’ll tell you one thing, they’re loving that right now.”
This isn’t the first time Mr. Abrams has cast questionable extras into his productions. In 2006, he accidentally cast an entire group of escaped felons into an episode of the popular blockbuster TV show Lost. During the filming of Star Trek Into Darkness, he included former porn star Sasha Grey as an adjunct member of the Star Ship Enterprise’s crew. Mr. Abrams has never apologized for these incidents.
According to Walt Disney Studios, they have no plans of editing-out the ISIS members in later releases, preferring to have a “live and learn” perspective on the screw-up.