When the first movie in Disney and Lucasfilm’s new Star Wars trilogy arrives in December, we’ll undoubtedly be greeted with some references to the original series — obviously. There’s a fine line between crafting clever and meaningful references that resonate fondly with your audience, and beating them over the head with what you think they want for nostalgia’s sake. Director J.J. Abrams appears to know the difference, and promises that the references in The Force Awakens are all there for a reason.

In his interview with Vanity Fair (via The Playlist), which hasn’t arrived online yet, Abrams revealed that his original script had far more references to George Lucas’ classic Star Wars trilogy — too many references, actually:

…we’ve obviously had a lot of time [during the development process] to talk about what’s happened outside of the borders of the story that you’re seeing. So there are, of course, references to things, and some are very oblique so that hopefully the audience can infer what the characters are referring to. We used to have more references to things that we pulled out because they almost felt like they were trying too hard to allude to something. I think that the key is—and whether we’ve accomplished that or not is, of course, up to the audience—but the key is that references be essential so that you don’t reference a lot of things that feel like, oh, we’re laying pipe for, you know, an animated series or further movies. It should feel like things are being referenced for a reason.

Abrams is being pretty smart about this, acknowledging that the fans will be the ultimate judges of the finished product. The Force Awakens can’t exist without referencing its predecessors in some capacity, and although you may judge me harshly for it, I dearly hope for at least one Ewok-sized reference to Endor.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrives on December 18.

Check out our gallery of new images from Star Wars: The Force Awakens: