How George Lucas Really Feels About Star Wars Now That It’s Not His

1 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Star Wars’ creator George Lucas feels ‘divorced’ from ‘The Force Awakens'; has avoided Internet since 2000; still defending change to make Greedo shoot first.

Deep inside a compelling Washington Post profile of George Lucas is the Star Wars creator defending perhaps his most infamous bit of Special Edition tinkering: having Greedo shoot Han Solo first rather than the scruffy-looking smuggler taking a pre-emptive action.Nearly 20 years after the re-released “special edition” of Star Wars altered a pivotal scene in which Han Solo had originally shot bounty hunter Greedo, director George Lucas has explained the edit. “Han Solo was going to marry Leia, and you look back and say, ‘Should he be a cold-blooded killer?'” the filmmaker said in an interview with The Washington Post (via Entertainment Weekly). “Because I was thinking mythologically — should he be a cowboy, should he be John Wayne?After inventing the “Star Wars” universe and creating a six-movie franchise about the fight for domination between Jedi Knights and the dark Galactic Empire, George Lucas realized that a clean break was in order.Even though he’s not in charge of the films anymore, George Lucas doesn’t seem to have any plans to back down from his controversial “Han Shot First” change in the Special Edition release of Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope.

First George Lucas revealed that Disney was not interested in his involvement in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and didn’t like the stories he outlined for the sequel trilogy. It’s a mythological reality that we hope our society pays attention to.” The scene takes place at the Mos Eisley cantina, where the lizard-like Greedo corners Solo and forces him to sit down at gunpoint. Lucas will receive a Kennedy Center Honor on Dec. 6, and ahead of the big event, he spoke to the Post’s Hank Stuever at the 71-year-old writer-director-producer’s Skywalker Ranch in Marin County. Force Awakens filmmaker JJ Abrams was quick to respond, claiming that Disney made the decision before he came on board: the studio “had decided they wanted to go a different way” with the story.

The pilot claims he has the money to pay the bounty hunter’s employer (Jabba the Hutt), and Greedo asks for the money for himself to “forget” he saw him. There, he gave some insight into his feelings about letting go of “Star Wars,” cutting ties with the new production and seeing the upcoming release of “The Force Awakens,” which debuts Dec. 18. Well now Lucas has given a new interview, where he talks more about not being involved in the new film, and reveals that Disney has yet to screen the film for him. Abrams had a firm opinion on the subject when asked during a Sirius XM Town Hall on Monday if Han shot first. “Hell yes,” Abrams said (the episode, hosted by PEOPLE and EW editorial director Jess Cagle, will premiere Dec. 14 at 6 p.m.

Greedo says he’s run out of patience and looks forward to killing him, to which our hero says, “I’ll bet you have,” at which point the versions of the film differ. And given that he hasn’t really used the Internet since 2000, it’s fair to say he probably isn’t poring over poster images and trailers, either.

The shooting established Ford’s character as somebody not to be messed with, and in the scene it’s pretty clear that Greedo is going to kill Han regardless (“Over my dead body” / “That’s the idea”). Abrams) has a vision, and it’s his vision.” To let go of his vision, Lucas was compensated with a reward bigger than even Han Solo could have imagined: He sold Lucasfilm to Disney for $4.05 billion in 2012, with most of the proceeds going to education charities. The scene has been altered several times since the 1997 special edition but all of the later versions show Greedo’s gun missing Solo before Solo returns fire. This was all built in the 1980s with piles of that initial “Star Wars” money, yet the main house was made to look several decades older, grander, Victorian — authentically ersatz, basking in the Marin County sun. Since selling Lucasfilm Ltd., to Disney three years ago for a mind-boggling $4 billion, Lucas has had no part in the upcoming movies or related theme parks.

In a short hallway off the foyer are two discrete, glass-encased shelves containing what you thought you’d see, when and if you ever got past the guards at Skywalker Ranch: Darth Vader’s lightsaber hilt, Indiana Jones’s Holy Grail, that kind of stuff. It’ll be weird, for sure, considering he’ll be watching original trilogy stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford reprise their roles without him. “Now I’m faced with this awkward reality, which is fine,” Lucas told the newspaper, comparing the situation to a parent attending the wedding of his grown child. “I gotta go to the wedding. Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again.

Snooping around anyhow (admiring all the other original art, including Norman Rockwell’s 1920 painting “Shadow Artist”), which is when the 71-year-old filmmaker George Lucas silently pads up from behind in his white tennis shoes and faded blue jeans and that casually impressive pompadour of silver hair. My ex will be there, my new wife will be there,” he adds. “But I’m going to have to take a very deep breath and be a good person and sit through it and just enjoy the moment, because it is what it is and it’s a conscious decision that I made.” “I came to that conclusion really around ‘Return of the Jedi,’ ” the film pioneer told The News in January. “By the time I came to the thing, I knew I was always going to be, ‘George (Star Wars) Lucas.’ There wasn’t anything I could do about it, so I had to get used to it.” He also divorced himself 15 years ago from the fickle fandom that rampaged online like Rancor beasts with their complaints over his heavily tweaked re-releases of the original trilogy.

Here is an excerpt from the article: He expected that he would soon see it here at the ranch (“I’ve got the best theater in the world,” he notes), perhaps even with Abrams and Lucasfilm Ltd. Disney is now building two huge “Star Wars” theme parks and has additional movie projects — besides Episodes VIII and IX — in the works. “I call it like a divorce,” Lucas says candidly.

He always knew that at some point he’d have to part with “Star Wars” in order for the franchise to go on living. “There is no such thing as working over someone’s shoulder,” he says. “You’re either the dictator or you’re not. And it seems like the filmmaker has been really honest in his public statements recently, so if they screen it for him I’m hoping we’d get his uncensored opinion. It was next to impossible to get work in the industry, Lucas says, so he and his friend Francis Ford Coppola formed their own production company, Zoetrope Studios, in an era in which other young turks (Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, et al.) were poised to forever change the business. With 40-plus years of hindsight and film history to consider, it can be difficult to imagine what Coppola and Lucas had in common. “We shared many ideas about how the film industry could be different [and] work differently toward the goal of making ‘more personal’ films,” Coppola recalls. “When I saw his student films, I was totally impressed with what this shy, understated young man could do.” After Coppola made “The Godfather” and Lucas made “THX 1138,” both men were eager to collaborate on a film about Vietnam (which eventually became Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now”), but Coppola dared his friend to try making a comedy next.

Lucas took that bet and made “American Graffiti,” a heartfelt film loosely sketched from his own experiences, about a young man (Richard Dreyfuss) who tools around the streets of Modesto one last night before he’s supposed to leave for college. In theaters, “American Graffiti” dialed back in time a mere decade, but to audiences who had seen and felt the tumult of the late ’60s, the vibe of “American Graffiti” felt like a century had passed.

By the mid-’70s, Lucas hoped to return to making experimental independent film, but Alan Ladd Jr. at Twentieth Century Fox bought his loony idea for a science-fiction space saga. Lucas wanted to make a movie that would teach children the central ethic of right and wrong, good and evil. “I want[ed] to see if I can bend their lives at a particular point in time when they’re very vulnerable,” he recalls, “and give them the things that we’ve always given kids throughout history.

I wanted to build sets . . . work with art directors and production designers and – you know.” In “Star Wars” lore, Lucas and everyone at Fox braced themselves for the film to bomb. Not the rereleases, not the cable reruns, not the thousand times we’ve all watched it on screens as big as an IMAX and as little as an iPhone, but that very first time it played in those twin-plexes and drive-ins.

The words crawling across a field of stars, the camera panning down to the desert planet, the Imperial Star Destroyer seeming to come in low over our heads with its laser cannons firing at Princess Leia’s cruiser. The artists and engineers who worked for Lucas’s special-effects and sound companies repeatedly upgraded the moviegoing experience, not just for the summer giants but across the board — the way all films got sharper, the way theaters thundered and roared. Lucas may or may not have been prepared for the depth of anticipation and fevered devotion that awaited the prequels — the online gossip (production call sheets from the top-secret set of “The Phantom Menace” were finding their way to the Internet’s earliest bloggers), the anxious fans, the sound of film critics sharpening their knives. He’s a passionate defender of an artist’s right to go back and tweak his work, which is why Lucasfilm cleaned up the matte lines visible on the original trilogy’s space battles and added more creatures and humanoids to crowd scenes. He also went back to some scenes that had always bothered him, particularly in the 1977 film: When Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is threatened by Greedo, a bounty hunter working for the sluglike gangster Jabba the Hutt, Han reaches for his blaster and shoots Greedo by surprise underneath a cantina table.

They were big and technically impressive (and collectively took in $2.5 billion in box-office), yet many found them soulless and lacking a certain whiz-bang momentum. On a recent episode of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” the host, in a twerpy mood, asked his guest Harrison Ford: “Who do you like better, George Lucas or J.J. Out in the world, people recognize him (in the most banal places, while catching a movie with his wife at a cineplex, or reporting for jury duty, or accidentally walking into the frame of someone’s YouTube video about molten salt reactors) and they still need to pour out their feelings.

In between takes at a photo shoot, he proudly gets out his phone to show off pictures of their 2-year-old daughter, Everest, and freely describes the details of the gestational surrogacy process that made her. (After his divorce from his first wife in 1983, Lucas raised three children, now grown — two of whom he adopted as a single father.) He has pledged to give away nearly all of his estimated $5 billion worth; much of his philanthropy has focused on education, with significant donations to USC’s film school and the University of Chicago Lab Schools. Most notably, he has thrown his energies into the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago, which could cost him as much as $300 million to build, by some estimates, and $400 million to permanently endow.

It will include some “Star Wars” and other historical movie artifacts, but it will also show off artists such as Maxfield Parrish and Norman Rockwell (Lucas and Spielberg together own nearly all the Rockwell paintings, as it happens) and others whose works were derided by traditional art critics as lacking intellectual heft. “To me, art is communicating emotions — that’s all,” Lucas says. “That’s art. Or it’s a set of plans for a building, it’s not the building itself. “The great thing about art is that you get a feeling about something, you get knowledge about something, but you don’t know why. Describe the Sistine Chapel — it’s very hard. ‘It made me feel spiritual feelings and thoughts I’d never had before.’ Well, what do you mean? ‘I don’t know what I mean — you’ll have to just go and see it.’ ‘Star Wars’ was like that.

To try to describe these things is very hard.” After offering to build the museum in his home of San Francisco, Lucas tired of fighting those who opposed both its sensibilities and its proposed location. He’s facing a similar battle in Chicago — art and architecture critics have sniffed at the design and the location on the city’s cherished lakefront.

The museum has both city hall and the Illinois legislature on its side; a federal judge recently gave a preservation group until February to respond to the city’s request for the court to drop a lawsuit protesting the museum. “Doing this museum, I’ve realized that most cities don’t want museums, they don’t really care about them,” Lucas says. “You know, it’s too esoteric for most people, and they don’t see them as educational institutions.” And he’s optimistic about that fast-approaching day that he takes a seat in a theater, the lights go down and (presumably) the words “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . .” appear on the screen. (Surely they won’t have changed that.) Think of it this way, he says: “I never got to see the spaceship come over [in 1977].

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