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Oliver Gettell
January 08, 2016 AT 09:21 PM EST

J.J. Abrams has heard the criticism that Star Wars: The Force Awakens cribs too heavily from George Lucas’ original trilogy. But the director of what is now the highest-grossing domestic release of all time doesn’t seem to find the lack of faith disturbing.

In a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Abrams acknowledged that some viewers may find his film overly familiar, but he also maintained that it was important to acknowledge the franchise’s past while paving the way for its future.

“I can understand that someone might say, ‘Oh, it’s a complete rip-off!'” Abrams said, adding, “What was important for me was introducing brand new characters using relationships that were embracing the history that we know to tell a story that is new — to go backwards to go forwards.”

Abrams, who co-wrote The Force Awakens with Lawrence Kasdan (after Michael Arndt worked on earlier drafts), also said he knew going into the project that he wouldn’t be able to please everyone.

“I knew that, whatever we did, there would be a group of people — and I was just hoping and praying that it would be smaller than not — that would take issue with any number of things,” he said. “But I knew we weren’t making the movie for any other reason than we believed that it could be something meaningful and special and entertaining and worthy of people’s time.”

RELATED VIDEO: J.J. Abrams shares his favorite Star Wars fan theory

For more from Abrams, including his thoughts about handing off Star Wars: Episode VIII to Rian Johnson, check out the full interview at THR.

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