“I'm going to invent a religion that's going to make me a fortune. I'm tired of writing for a penny a word.”
George Walton Lucas, Jr. (born May 14, 1944) is an American filmmaker and entrepreneur known for being the creator of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, a pioneering director of New Hollywood cinema, a digital painter of ultra-baroque Where's Waldo?-like scene compositions, a writer and rewriter of childhood memories, and the creator of Ewoks and Jar Jar Binks. His former two attributes are why he is known as God to some geeks, while the latter three are why he is considered the Devil by others.
Like the mythical King Midas, whatever Lucas touches changes form; however, instead of gold like Midas, Lucas has the power of Forcefication or "to change into raw power". He also is the inventor of movie-making machine Lucasfilm (which he later sold to Disney), elaborate light show Industrial Light and Magic, popular salad dressing flavor Skywalker Ranch, and the THX hearing test.
Early life and education
Born in Modesto, California, Lucas is actually a highly-evolved form of flannel corporeally inhabiting a white man. He was fascinated with technology from a young age and as a teen, popularized the Bell Labs slang term "THX 1138", a sarcastic version of "thanks a million". Growing up, Lucas never really experienced much racism except the odd "Look, mommy! Vanilla people!" from backwoods hill folk or "I bet the white slavers were cold in the winter, dude." from a misguided college roommate.
George attended film school, where he made his first film, Jurassic Christ, which tells the story of a prehistoric Jesus ministering the gospel to cavemen. It is known that as a teenager and young adult, Lucas followed the teachings of a controversial and ultra-orthodox sect of the LDS Church; later in life, he renounced this belief. To that end, he included the so-called "Jar Jar" character in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, with the obvious intent being to make baby Jesus cry. To date Lucas, now a devout Duckist, has offered no comment.
In 1971, Lucas produced his first wide-release film THX 1138, a documentary about the early days of the Heaven's Gate cult and a member who was tired of it. The film was met with some mixed reviews, but was generally seen as a promising career start. However, the Orwell estate did not look upon it so kindly, and promptly pressed charges against Lucas for copyright infringement and crimethink. It is perceived by some that it was this experience that effected George Lucas's attitude towards lawsuits. For this reason, he has come to be known as "The Mad Turk".
Lucas was a passionate writer and at the age of 29, he became senior editor of the popular 1950s–early '60s nostalgia magazine American Graffiti. While on the staff he met Vietnam protest revolutionary Ron Howard, and even coined Howard's famous nickname "The Duck" because of his legendary love of Uncle Scrooge Comics. The two became fast friends and soon Lucas joined Howard's militant group, the Mighty Ducks, and became their Minister of Film. Lucas shot several digital propaganda films for the Ducks but later became frustrated with the format, saying it was "cold" and "sterile".
“Ten lines? That's all I get? Who the hell will care about a guy who only gets ten lines?”
American Graffiti and THX alone were not garnering Lucas the fame he so coveted. In a surprising twist of events, however, Lucas was able to achieve his dream, and after several weeks of meditating in the swamp, he developed a new filmmaking style known as The Force. Films shot in Force-style are shot only on celluloid filmstock with little-to-no post-production; all sound, music, and lighting must be done live and in one take. So if you've gotta pee, do it before you start shooting. Because of their limitations, Force-styled movies depend on clever dialogue and interesting characterization as opposed to flashy special effects; Lucas may have been more successful as a director if he was talented in any of those areas. Despite his movies' unpopularity outside of a cult fanbase, Lucas refused to let anyone make any changes to his movies, saying "Once they're done, they're done."
In the mid-1970s, a consortium of genius filmakers gathered to pool their collective talents to create one the greatest tales ever told. The project was to be bold in scope and execution, spanning ten years in the making. The project would be simply known as... Star Wars. It would be one epic 12-hour movie, shot starting with the beginnings of a young lad on a distant planet to his eventual downfall and later redemption by his own son! It could have been, perhaps, the greatest film epic of all-time. But when word leaked to Lucas, it was just the opportunity he was seeking:
|“||So I wanted a hit remake of The Wizard of Oz, with updated CGI effects, and the dwarf shooting first! But I didn't have the technology needed to make my vision a reality at the time, so I did it '70s-style... with laserguns, spaceships, bad fashion, and President Jimmy Carter. The studios at first refused, saying I was insane. So I changed the title, kicked Carter out, and then... BOOM! Star Wars!||”|
— George Lucas on the making of Star Wars
Blackmailing the participating filmmakers with as of yet unseen, uncredited, and to all but Lucas unwatchable reenactments of The Aristocrats, Lucas soon gained control of the project. The creative decisions that followed are now considered the magnum opus of trade-offs. Lucas's first decision was to start the first movie in the middle of the story. This radical departure from conventional storytelling was a master stroke of foolishness and soon the entire project's dignity was down the toilet. The second decision was to split the proposed 12-hour movie into six two-hour movies, to make them more palatable to mainstream audiences. George's odd decisions continued by making the first three movies (the last half of the story arc) superior to the last three movies (the first half of the arc). More assinenessitude was to follow; Lucas had found his calling. Despite the other filmmakers creating the original concept, Lucas takes credit for creating the entire Star Wars universe from top to bottom; according to him, "I've always considered myself as a visionary 'out-of-this world' director, so I wanted to create a movie out of this galaxy, concept, era, year, and so on and so forth. The idea of making a movie from a 'galaxy far, far away...' (by the way, that's a trademark) was invented in my mind at the early age of 6... I can pretty much tell you by that time R2-D2 was exactly what I had in mind."
The three movies released, Star Wars (later tackily retitled Episode IV: A New Hope when George Lucas, who previously planned for the movie to be a potential standalone in case it flopped, realized he could go through with a full series after unexpectedly becoming a millionaire overnight), Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, were major box office and critical successes and changed sci-fi forever, causing the genre to steer course away from deep and intellectual films like Alien into mindless action schlock like Aliens. Lucas got a lot of help on these movies, from folks such as Irvin Kershner, Gary Kurtz, and his own wife Marcia, yet took all the credit, fame, and fortune for himself; these people not being around to help Lucas with the prequels really explains a lot.
Having made friends with Steven Spielberg, Lucas decided to do a project for Steven's synagogue titled Raiders of the Lost Ark, in which he would follow the adventures of archaeologist Indiana Jones (played by Harrison Ford, himself a Jew, who Lucas knew from playing Han Solo in Star Wars) in search of the Ark of the Covenant. Included in the film were re-enactions of previous expeditions conducted by the Nazis in the 1930s. Knowing the subject matter to be sensitive, Lucas offset any offensive or tasteless material by having a sequence in which God sends an angel to deliver divine retribution to the fascist murderers.
Lucas would go on to do two sequels: Temple of Doom, an investigative report of an Indian Thuggie network involved in child labor; and The Last Crusade, another religious-based documentary for The Vatican featuring actor and crime lord Sean Connery in search of the Holy Grail, a keg used by Jesus at the last supper into which he split his own blood and passed around the room in one of his typical cannibalist rituals.
The Reclusive Years
Around 1983, Lucas dropped out of the public eye. Many rumors surfaced as to his whereabouts and activities; a task force of investigative reporters and FBI officials were formed at the bequest of Spielberg (Lucas's good friend and second-in-command). After much field work, a very shocking picture began to emerge: Lucas, it seems, had become a duck addict. In an apparent attempt to mimic L. Ron Hubbard, Lucas had left Catholicism and devised his own bizarre religious sect which he named "Duckism". According to Duckism, many thousands of years ago, the earth was inhabited by a race of giant, human-like ducks. These ancient ducks had come from outer space to populate the Earth and live a peaceful, quack-filled life. Lucas now believed these duck beings communicated with him via Aflac commercials, and would faithfully record these messages by smearing duck sauce on the walls of the secret cave he know dwelled in.
Lucas then reemerged to the world, proclaiming a message of universal truth and cosmic significance. This message would be revealed to the world in the only serious work of Lucas's career, the immensely popular 1986 blockbuster Howard the Duck.
In 1993, Lucas announced in Variety magazine among other sources that he would be making a Star Wars prequel trilogy. According to him:
|“||When I first made Episodes IV, V, and VI, I never actually thought about them as a separate movies, you know, since Star Wars is just one long movie divided into six parts. Oh, you thought Star Wars was just three parts? Then I told you guys the saga was going to be nine parts, or even possibly 12 parts. Well, now it's just six parts, you see? There won't be any Episodes VII, VIII, or IX, I'm sure of that.
So I was at a screening of Jurassic Park with Steve lately, and I was wowed by all the crazy CGI effects and whatnot. At that particular moment, I realized moviemaking tech had advanced far enough, that I could now convincingly tell the story of Darth Vader. How Anakin Skywalker turned to the Dark Side, how he became Vader in the first place, and how he came to rule the galaxy side-by-side with Emperor Sheev. I think that is an interesting story, and a funny story to tell (actually, I need money to recoup the costs of my second divorce).
— George Lucas on how he Force-birthed the Star Wars prequels through midichlorians
In 1997, to anticipate the prequels as well as the 20th anniversary of the franchise, Lucas re-released the original trilogy to theaters as part of a Star Wars Special Edition, where he attempted to fix every single frame of the movies to conform better to his so-called "vision" of density with so many things going on in every single image. "The more I started writing the draft, the more I knew the first trilogy had to be recut to bind it better with the upcoming second trilogy. It just didn't work, it didn't work at all," Lucas stated in an interview. "All the actors did such a lazy job trying to implement my vision and it was OK at that time. But computer technology helped me to fix this awful work. CGI is not just cheaper than practical effects, but also looks cooler too." Among the changes made were replacing rubber puppet Jabba the Hutt with a CGI worm; subtitling Star Wars to Episode IV: A New Hope; replacing dull old geezer Sebastian Shaw with talented young growing star Hayden Christensen as Anakin's force ghost; and making Greedo shoot first instead of Han Solo. The latter change especially angered many fans, and sparked the infamous question: "Who shot first?"
The three prequels released — Episode I: The Phantom Movie in 1999, Episode II: Attack of the Clowns in 2002, and Episode III: Anakin Finally Becomes Darth Vader Due to Severe Burn Injures from Falling into a Volcano After Fighting Obi-Wan Kenobi Because He Thought Obi-Wan Had Turned Padme Against Him in 2005 — received mixed reviews, mostly from nostalgic Gen X manchildren who expected them to be exactly the same as the original movies. Upon seeing them, many viewers tried to convince themselves the prequels were actually good and that they couldn't possibly suck because "It's Star Wars, c'mon!", but eventually gave in to their anger and jumped on the anti-prequel hatewagon with multipart hour-long dissections of the movies. The prequels were box office successes nonetheless, since no movie with the Star Wars named attached could possibly flop, and Lucas could happily say that he was now a billionaire.
“The locations in the new films were amazing. Where did you shoot them?”
“We didn't use any locations... we used computer-generated landscapes.
I can't say the old movies were bad, per se. We just didn't have the digital technology necessary to make them truly spectacular at the time. Now we do.”
In 2008, Lucas teamed up with his old friend Steven Spielberg returned to another one of his old franchises with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Ancient Aliens. The film starred Shia "Optimus" LaBeouf as Indy's son and featuring memorable scenes such as the fridge-nuking, Shia swordfighting a Russian spy woman while surfing a car that's being pursued by CGI monkeys, the Russian lady being evaporated by the crystal-skull aliens, and Indy renouncing his playboy lifestyle and getting married. Again the movie scored big at the box office but received drubbings from weepy '80s-loving Gen Xers, who claimed they could feel their childhoods being nuked alive during the scene where Indy hides in a fridge that gets blown away by a nuclear blast, yet oddly survives.
In 2012, Lucas acted as the producer and reshoot director on the tepidly-received war movie Red Tails, which he paid for out of his own pocket, about the African-American Tuskegee Air Force. The film's main director was Anthony Hemingway, but Lucas was advertised as the "face" of the movie despite only doing some reshoots; it's likely that "From the creator of Star Wars and Indiana Jones!" was a more lucrative marketing tagline than "From the director of some CSI episodes you may or may have not seen!" Red Tails crashed and burned both critically and, oddly for a Lucas production, commercially; as it was the first ever film to not contain a single white person onscreen the entire movie, Lucas attributed its negative reviews to racism, although some would argue that the movie's plastic, cartoony video game-esque tone and feel inappropriate for a serious war drama is what really did it in, not racism (plus, isn't having an all-black cast with no whites technically racist also?).
In 2012, Lucas announced his retirement from the filmmaking business, citing "Everyone yelling at you and calling you a terrible person" as his reason for retiring. He sold the Star Wars franchise to Disney, who produced corny, soulless, Marvel-ish rehashes of the original trilogy without George's creative input (and without an overarching game plan).
Recently, Lucas, jealous of Disney, has partially come out of his retirement to create his own "canon" version of a Star Wars sequel trilogy. The Real Star Wars Episode VII will be released to theaters in 20X9, while Real Episode VIII will follow in 20X2 and Real Episode IX in 20X5. According to Lucas:
|“||I'm not going to spoil much about the new movies to you... but let's just say that Obi-Wan Kenobi was in fact the father of the twins. By the way, you can preorder tickets at www.jarjarsbigadventure.com and then order them again when the movies come out. I also expect to see you in theaters for the Special Edition of the same trilogy, and do not hesitate to buy the movies on DVD and Blu-ray, although it will be wise if you wait one year for the AWESOME Star Wars Nine-Packed box set, with the soon-to-be nine Star Wars movies plus additional bonus material including:
And finally, last but not least, special featurettes such as:
You can expect the "final" release of the Star Wars Saga — soon to be known as the Star Wars Ennealogy — to hit stores in 20X0. We have also thought of releasing a new box set version of the saga with alternate scenes and changes, it is tentative for 20X2, and then a RE-release of the same box set but in Special Edition form, with a different cover maybe...
— George Lucas's official press release for the new Star Wars movies
Following his retirement, Lucas has become with the Force and split into two parts: one human, one flannel. After spending a few weeks in Force Heaven, Human Lucas decided to be a Force ghost instead and give people awesome lightsaber tips right before the bad guy is about to win, while Flannel Lucas amuses himself by possessing sorority girls and racecar drivers. The pair recently started indie production company Phantom Menace Productions which includes a Jar Jar Binks record label, Dexter Jettster-themed clothing line, and Watto-brand energy drink. Lucas allegedly wanted to produce some arthouse indie movies through this company that he would only show to his closest friends (something he's been claiming since the prequels ended but never actually did), but the company ultimately flopped, as being dead was a prerequisite for joining the workforce.
Lucas has never known a woman's touch and claims that even though he grew up Catholic and has been married twice, he is a "virgin of circumstance" because he never actually made physical contact with his lovers. This explains why Anakin and Padme's romance in the Star Wars prequels is so lacking in chemistry, because it was written by a man who never had any physical chemistry himself.
In 1977, Lucas married Marcia Griffin, one of the editors on American Graffiti and Star Wars. Marcia later cheated on George with a window-washer from Skywalker Ranch, thinking George was too much of a boring old workaholic to please her. They separated in 1983, and George lost much of his fortune in their divorce settlement. For many years he lived alone, drinking Jawa juice at his Texas Ranch. But in 2013, realizing he didn't want to face retirement alone, Lucas married noted black woman Melody Hobson. George loves his ladies mentally, but never physically.
- Technically George already did this in 1981 with an earlier Star Wars re-release, but let's be honest: before the late '90s came along and changed everything with the prequels and Special Editions, who in their right mind referred to the original Star Wars as "A New Hope"? Nobody, that's who.
- According to Lucas: "I was able to do this while avoiding any kind of lawsuit due to the rights of the actor. As you may know I'm sure, Mr. Shaw passed away back in 1994, so there was no problem with re-shooting the scene. I mean it makes sense, how does a person, in this case Sebastian, can claim for rights if he is already dead, am I right? (chuckles)"
- According to Lucas, "If you had bought my 'rare-unseen-very-special-edition-one-single-packed-deluxe-box-set-extended-limited-version-with-gift' you'll know that actually I had it that way already in the deleted scene number '66'. The camera angles in the final cut just made it appear as though Han had shot first."