BONUS: Talking Star Wars with George Lucas Biographer Brian Jay Jones | E8


In the following may contain mature content from one very. I'm Mark Ramsey and this is a special bonus episode of Inside Star Wars. I am here with Brian. J Jones Brian is the author of many excellent and popular biographies of some of the best known names in popular culture. He wrote among others Jim Henson the biography about the legendary musketeer Brian's newest book which is available at bookstores and online right now is becoming Dr Seuss Theodor Geisel in the making of an American imagination. It's a mouthful Brian but it's the rain subtitles titles but that one had to work so let's say it's a great subtitle. It's a great subtitle <hes> the reason he's here with us. Today is because of the book he wrote in between those two projects and it was one of my main sources for various parts of inside Star Wars. It's called George Lucas a life. It's an incredible biography really the best of its kind. I'm one of the questions to ask you in fact Brian is that <hes> there aren't a lot of books on George Lucas <hes> it seems to me there are a lot of books on star wars but there aren't a lot of books on George Lucas right there were there were two other biographies of him. Biographies One was written by Dale pollock that came out in eighty three the first time so it was like right skywalking this guy walking yeah right and it's right as jed is coming out and and so <hes> you know it really it because at the time it was written when you go back and look now with Mrs Most of the you know sort of second active his career there <hes> in politics go back and revisit again a little bit later and then there's one more <hes> <hes> Gosh I'm gonNA I can't remember number. It's up by an Australian <hes> so that's that's the only other one out there so there hasn't been a lot of Agassi's lots on the work but none millennium and plenty of little kid biographies interesting. I've noticed that a lot of little kid George Lucas and I am Georgia yeah. There's a lot of kid biographies yeah. No no no books for GROWNUPS. So why do you think that is. I mean here's one of the most iconic personalities in popular culture in the last fifty years and the honors of doing a proper biography will really waited for you. Well probably because you can't get him. I think a big part of it d like Dale pollock had it and pollock's book is a great source to go to for the early days because Luca sat down with him and told him stories of his childhood and so on and Pollock as I think I've even said this to tim personally or in email kind kind of ruined it for the rest of us because after that came out Lucas or devout he was never sitting down with anyone ever again and doing this <hes> so so Lucas doesn't talk with anybody <hes> and so I think that's part of the reasons people haven't really tried to take a bite out of it. <hes> <hes> fortunately may we'll talk about this a little bit later. Fortunately the guy sits down and talks way more than he thinks he does so there's there's plenty out there and work with but I think one of the one of the intimidation factor people's you just can't get Lucas. That's that doesn't bother me but you tried. I did the trial me what that process was like trying to get through to George Lucas so I I had some contact information inside of Skywalker just because I had worked with <hes> in the Jim Henson Booker was an image of Jim Henson and George Lucas Together <hes> because they did labyrinth together gather and so out of courtesy. I didn't necessarily have to but out of courtesy. I just decided I would clear the use of his image so I emailed somebody inside Skywalker so I had some contact information it's either to get that cleared and they signed off on it and so then when I was ready to move move forward several years later with a book by George Lucas I went ahead and started going back through by context I had inside Skywalker to see if I could get something at least in front of him and I did. I got an email that I wrote for eighteen years <hes> <hes> and got it in front of him and I actually did get a no back. <hes> which is I found out. Later is huge the fact that he told me no was was pretty big because apparently he never says anything to anybody but I did get enough and in fact what happened is the response was <hes> and it was through his his people but he said this isn't something he's just shouldn't doing at this time and I just thought Oh at this time. There's there's he's dying to be done but not so much a Hollywood. Yes right exactly that's what is so I mean you would think that the fact that you didn't talk to them isn't really a problem because first of all you obviously judging by the biography talk to so many people who knew him in and you so much of what he says on record but also I find he changes his story over the years pretty significantly. He really does yeah and and fortunately again for people who want to write about him. <hes> fortunately he's been talking on the record for a long time since before he knew he was going to be George Lucas. When he was talking he was doing in American graffiti and even back in his days with Coppola so so he's on the record a lot and he's talking about star wars a lot in the days before star wars was huge so you can catch him in those early days when he thinks he's he's never gonNA come back to this silly film you know talking about his master plans and what you know what he has planned for star wars if anything so he's got a lot out there he he did talk an awful lot and again fortunately he was the boy wonder so he went on the record very early in his career? I had a conversation with a friend WHO's in the film business who's WHO and I said. He said I heard him say I'm not convinced that Lucas had all the plans that he had for the original trilogy upfront because if you listen to the director's commentary for the original trilogy he talks about how all of that was mapped out from the very beginning and he said to me. There's no way that's true and I said well based on the research from your book and other sources I can confirm it's not true he didn't have all that mapped out and I said what makes you think that and he said because he wouldn't have written the first movie the way he wrote. If he had all that mapped out he wouldn't have written the brother sister thing right the way he wrote it. In the first movie he wouldn't have written the father reference. Is that what you find is you to this research. Well first of all the issue that I had is because I was so I was nine when Star Wars came out so I was reading everything I could on star wars from the time star wars came out from when I was nine and I even remember reading an article whether it was in dynamite magazine magazine or something back and so I stuck with me and it was Lucas talking about how he wanted to make a movie all about all about Ben Kenobi on Skywalker Darth vader so like he'd already broke he already had them as three distinct people and he was talking about they were going to have a lightsaber a fight on of okay so there were there were elements there that we know but he distinctly talked about them as separate characters I remember reading that at eleven and it stuck with me the rest of my life so I knew when I kept seeing this stuff later on that he said it was all planned out and he was just making it up. I think it's safe to say that that's okay okay that we don't mind that the fact that he reconstructs reality. It's just that the that it is in fact a reconstruction outlook. You are allowed to be the hero of your own story. Absolutely no one knows that better than George Lou absolutely so let's talk about that you it takes years to put these things together these biographies right. How many years does it take to write one of these fronta back? <hes> I started this almost like a month after the Jim Henson book came out so. I started in late two thousand thirteen and it came out in December of sixteen so it's about a three year process longer than it took to write star wars its own agony and biographies its own agony. We haven't seen the biographies were never finish as much as their abandoned abandon because you always feel like there's only especially when it's a subject like this. You always feel like there's there's something out there. You haven't seen something you haven't read or watched or whatever especially when it comes to his universes so the hardest part is finally just deciding. I'm just GONNA sit down to start writing this now. I have to consider myself self done with research so you had a choice of how to spend those three years you charge Joe. You chose George Lucas. Why did you choose him? Well I mean when you're when I'm writing Jim Henson and here's the picture of him with George Lucas and there I get to write about <hes> labyrinth and it's so funny because I every book I've written his nonfiction but every bag I talk with us this sort of view of it when you're when you're writing biography you tend to think of your hero hero as a character and it's really fun was you're riding along and Jim Henson. I'm like oh I get the right a little bit of George Lucas in this chapter. It's like it's almost like you're writing and here comes huckleberry Finn or some classic characters coming like the play with this character so when I was doing the Washington curving back I'm like oh I've got to grow Charles Dickens here and so it was great. It was a great moment in the Jim Henson Book when I get to George Luke so here's two huge worlds colliding in two hugely town of people and not an almost literally you know Jim's doing them up at show at L. Street and Lucas assuming star wars across the street so it was just a lot of those two worlds overlapping colliding it just it was one of the subjects that was too great to not to not try to make a run at than try to do and it. Is it fair cop. It's completely in my wheelhouse. It's just one of the thing I'm a star wars kid. I'm a muppet kid it just it made it was it was one of those dreams subjects. I was like I gotTA figure out a way to do this. That's great so as a kid. Did you have the action figures action figures Oh yeah my brother and I had everything from the first movie from the from empire most of it and then by the time jet I came out. We weren't getting the twice as much but we have. We still have it all my I was Gonna ask that I actually shopped it off. Ship it off to my brother several years ago and he actually led his two sons. We're about the same age difference my brother. They were play with them except he calls it supervised play. If of course they're going to play with that Millennium Falcon. He's going to sign when I was a kid. My brother broke every <hes> every cool toy had so we're very we did not break things. In fact we kept the boxes so let's talk about kind of the relationship ship between George Lucas in these other characters. I mean it's funny that you refer to him as a character because in fact that's what this podcast is the the inside Star Wars podcast is taking the character in your book and other books and actually making him a character in entertainment so it's funny that use that reference. It's very very conscious in my mind. What is the through line Jim Hence George Lucas Theodor Geisel Dr Seuss and what did these huge food icons have in common from <hes>? You've been deeper with these three people than anyone else has. What are the commonalities sort of two things <hes> one of the very first and most important thing is eye on the ball all three of them? No are absolutely absolutely a thousand percent committed to the work. The work matters probably almost more than anything for Jim it mattered more almost in his marriage and for Lucas at mattered almost more marriage and for Ted guys almost more than his marriage so these are guys who have their on the ball they they have the the there's a chapter in the Jim Henson Book and it can apply to George Lucas called the world and his head they having this thing mapped out in their head. They know the way it should look. It should feel it should taste. It should smell and they're going to do what it takes to get there the great thing about Lucas's you know he's getting ready to make star wars. I need great special effects. That doesn't exist fine screw. I'm building my own Lucas. Whatever took Lucas was go get it? He was going to build it himself. If it wasn't there which is way runs the table eventually right you know he none of that stuff exists we make it all so so I think that I on the work is the one big through life for them and almost to the detriment. That's not quite fair but like that that is what's driving everything for the three of those guys the other thing is they were all very smart and this matters especially for for Lucas and for Jim to some extent <hes> the merchandising they all knew their work matter. They all knew their work had value and they weren't going to sign that away. Jim Henson didn't do it. Dr Seuss didn't do it and George. Lucas definitely didn't do it. George Lucas built his empire on the back of three and three figures he financed the the second and third movie based on the action so so I think those are the two big bits of connecting tissue between them. What about differences? How would you describe them as different from each other well you know I think I think gyms the one you want to sit down and go to dinner with Lucas would get tired of you and just get up and walk away but Lucas on the other hand is you know fiercely devoted to his friends and his wife even said he got all the friends you need it in college and that it was about it for him so his first wife is first wife Yeah? Marsha said that the all he did all his friends from U._S._C. and that was it that was I think seems a little more laid back so you know there are different in the way they interact with their contemporaries. <hes> Jim was very good about Iraq. He considered his his work family family almost to the again almost to the point where one of his businesses said Jim. You can't call these people family because you can't fire family <hes> Lucas. This wasn't really inclined to worry too much about that if he thought you were doing their job he didn't from dumping you <hes> so <hes> so so jim loved the idea of working with the guy's looks not so much. Everyone always talked about how miserable Lucas looked on the set <music> and Dr Seuss. He's another one who who I think tried playing the Hollywood game in a number of things and decided that he didn't like doing writing by committee and things like that. What was that movie that he made that <hes> thousand fingers were doctor too yeah one of the worst movies the Amazon Prime I it's it's worth watching <hes> but yeah it's it's? It looks great but it's it's pretty bad so he's so he's another one that just didn't suffer fools gladly again. It's actually more of a similarity but <hes> it they all have different kinds of personalities personnel. Would they all mesh together hard to say Jim. Lucas definitely got along <hes>. I'm wonder to <hes> when you talk about the focus on the work. The single minded focus on the work the consequence of that as you get older in life it seemed to me and this is what I tried to illustrate in in the podcast that as he got to the point of the of the of the backlash as the backlash swelled he began to change <hes> and to talk to him now at least two to hear from him. Now you get the sense that the things that he <hes> left behind during those years family spouse <hes> homelife are much more important to I am now and and that's an I wonder if that means he has regrets or if that means he's matured into the man he is today yeah I I think there's a little bit of both going on. I mean when he got out of filmmaking right after all but steps away and you know his his marriage is over. He does have a child that they've adopted together but he he starts dating at that point. He dates Linda Ronstadt for quite some time. Actually that was really interesting to me. I didn't realize how long dated her but ends up adopting three children total and living this happy life so when he finally decided to get back in the director's chair for Phantom menace. It's really important for him to bring his family with him something he had never done before so he's got. The kids on the set and I think kids of lightened him up a little bit so I think I think family really did become really really important. I think it was always important and conceptually <hes> but I think he finally became the kind of parent that he wanted to be at that time and you know once once he picked up with married Mellody Hobson. I think she's been great for him. I really think she's the one that's loosened him up and give them a little bit of a sense of humor about himself. I'm not sure he would have been doing adult swim as she out there and his relationship with the fans I think exchanged I always say that he's not necessarily inclined to worry about your emotional wellbeing anyway as a fan and it is kind of funny to watch him being sort of jokingly dismissive of the fans you know it's like whatever whatever you system but I I do think that the backlash upset him but I also think he was going to go off and go do his own thing at that point and he didn't really care what we thought where's the balance between him making these movies what he wanted them to be from the beginning and never could because of technology analogy because of Fox <hes> and <hes> the desire of the audience to have the Star Wars the way it was in nineteen seventy seven when they first saw it in the theater you know it's funny to me watching the fan response to the last Jedi and the sort of the new trilogy Elegy here to watch the misty eyed way people view the Fan <hes> phantom menace now and attack of the clones like everyone's like those movies are so great we should be doing George Lucas right the nutrient and I'm. I'm just thinking God. Don't you remember how much we crapped on that say that these people have seen it yeah but but but that's what's so great about star wars is that we all sort of get our star wars. My Star Wars is the original originally and in fact the original star are were still my starbucks. I won't even call it a new hope. If you notice in the biography I never used those that's true that's interesting you say that because this series is called inside star wars and it's really all about the first Rayvey I e the fourth movie right yeah so it was never to not episode Ford starts but it was you know we have our stories into when people ask me about what what do you think of the Prequel trilogy and what do you think of of the new the sequel trilogy at this point I liked. I loved the sequel trophy. I like the Prequel trilogy but my response on that is you know they're they're not for me. I'm going to tell a six year old. You know the phantom menace isn't a great movie <hes> because they love it and that's that's what Lucas's setting out to do with those movies so so it's one of those like we all sort of get our own version of Star Wars. which is what makes star were so great <hes>? Are you surprised that it's still here I mean are you surprised that it's I because let's go back in time. Okay when Disney to the deal for I think it was four billion dollars for Lucasfilm. <hes> some people thought okay. That's an interesting investment but I think people were thinking of it as an investment in six movies plus maybe another three right right and that's it right. People weren't seeing it. I think for the scope that it now obviously has asked where they're going to be star wars movies until you and I are dead and gone right and beyond and T._v.. Shows and T._v.. Shows and theme park attractions and so on I mean I think that's that's that's the beauty and brilliance whether you want to call it that or not of Disney <hes> if you're going to own a franchise you know you can work the franchise. I think you know some people that I thought that that fourbillion they wanted. Star Wars George Lucas in the deal and they thought that was the part this part of the deal the same way then in gyms lifetime part of what made that deal so valuable was they were getting. I'm Jim and the deal and when he died and they didn't get him the deal sort of fell apart and I think so here and I think I actually think they learned lessons from the Henson deal that that didn't carry forward and made them much smarter about picking up the commodities later on that's right. They've got that too. I forgot about the way they've handled marvel and so on I think they've done abysmally with the muppets but I think the lessons they learned from that if they've done much better with marvel and picks and so on but anyway so I think I think with Lucasfilm had you told me at age thirteen that after I came out empire strikes back I'd still be watching movies at least forty years later. No I would not have believed that I think I think thirty nine year old definitely would have been happy coming out of started saying you'll still be watching star wars I would've been happy to I would've loved hearing that but I would love hearing it so I'm I'm not surprised because again whether Lucas intended it or not he always seemed to strike just the right times with these and got us when we were really ready form so so I think I think Disney's actually smart to be doing it this way. You know they don't want to pump the brakes a little bit which they are which they are so and I personally don't think solo was the horrible failure that people say it is. I don't think the numbers back that up anyway but I'm excited about the man delorean and you know the great thing about stars. It's a gigantic Ganic universe. They'll Loughran put together. You know there's plenty of places to plant it and I think Disney's GonNa take advantage of that smart. One thing that occurs to me as I think about the origin of all that the origin of Star Wars in his mind is that many things we're kind of in the ether there and I it are you at all surprised that it it took until then because Flash Gordon had been around for decades right <hes> two thousand and one was well established by then but it was clearly clearly I mean I remember going to see that as a kid with my dad. I had no idea what the heck was going. I thought that way about close. I'm not so sure I still don't have any idea of what's going on there and close encounters kind of the same kind of went out saying you know <hes> are you surprised at all that it it took that long for those pieces to be put together and it and it came from someone who is that far outside this well. It's definitely again lightning in a bottle moment and I think you did have to have sort of all the lines converging at one point and and you're right part of what's going going on in that time is science fiction. You know it's the same reason the beetles come along and you know the Beatles are new and interesting different because American rock and roll kind of sucked at that time and Lucas comes in at a time when science fiction's kind of in the tank and there's no planet of the apes this is probably the last real franchise two thousand one but science fiction's like sort of artsy fartsy and Lucas hasn't done much to help that with T._H._X.. 1138 I mean he's he's sort of make science fiction. Look Artsy Fartsy with that too and I think that's the way science fiction's portray. That was his goal right right so chief is going to take he wanted to tank poor coppola so he comes along at the time that people don't there's no big we all forget that again to there really weren't science fiction movies at that time not anything like this they had done that kind of in the fifties but again that's lucas growing up with those kinds of these and so when Lucas finally comes along and he's done with American graffiti and he's ready to make his one big fun movie and he wants to get everything he loves about science fiction kind of out of his system at one time time he's going back to those memories of the of the Flash Gordon Serials on T._v. and the comics. That's one of the things I found so fascinating is the comic books that he loved aren't the ones you expect. It was Tommy Tomorrow on the planet here's from D._C.. which is like back of the book type comic it? was you know they had on the cover. That's what he was reading and Hawk Man intergalactic policeman weird kid so you know it's Lucas taking everything he loves and stirring around around and doesn't get Flash Gordon as you said <hes> but partly it's because he thinks he's done. I mean he thinks this is his one shot that he's going to make this movie and he's done so he's GonNa put everything he loves about science fiction and comic books and drama and and. And put it up on the screen at one time as much as he can knowing his budget is going to be very limited in worse very limited so so I think you know it's it's one of those it's somebody taking everything and throwing it up there and hoping it sticks we he may never have another shot at it again and if star wars doesn't take make you know you probably don't get you probably end up with close encounters because they were sort of doing that at the same time which to me was very interesting <hes> but again that's that's artsy fartsy Disney one that came out around black hole so but that yeah that's another artsy soon but against those that was the other that was in the hopper at the same time. A star wars doesn't hit. I think people are like you know what we're done with science fiction science fiction movies like Rom coms right yeah same thing people got exhaustive inside Star Wars is sponsored in part by Buffy buffy makes betting that is earth friendly and cruelty free yup their products are made using only sustainable and recycled materials which makes them as soft on on the planet as they are against your body their latest product the breeze is a comforter made entirely from one hundred percent eucalyptus fiber to regulate temperature and keep you cool and comfortable all night long. I didn't know you could do this with Eucalyptus but boy. I'm glad you can <music> all cozy. No overheating the breeze comforter is also hypoallergenic and that means a healthier sleeping environment for you a hundred percent plant based betting that's better for you and the earth and it's really comfortable too. That's a no-brainer but you have to try buffy yourself and here's how you can do it for free. If you don't love it return it at no cost. That's it for twenty dollars off your buffy comforter visit buffy dot co and enter Code Yoda. That's Buffy Dot Ah Scipio Code Yoda why O._D._A. for Twenty dollars off your buffy comforter. I'd be willing to bet that you've had the mattress you're sleeping on for a very long time right. Look if you've been waiting for the right moment at that moment has arrived casper mix absolutely stellar mattresses the most comfortable I've ever slept on and you can get one hundred dollars toward select mattresses right now just for being a listener of this show. I've got a hybrid casper. Mattress is fantastic. They've also got the original Casper. The wave and the essential casper products are cleverly designed to mimic human curves providing comfort for all kinds of bodies and they're affordable because casper cuts out the middleman and sells right to you. Look look you spend a thirty year life sleeping. You should be comfortable and you can be sure of your purchase with Casper's one hundred nights risk-free sleep on a trial. There's also free shipping and hassle free returns in the U._S. and Canada. If you're not completely satisfied but I think you will be get one hundred dollars toward select mattresses by visiting Casper Dot com slash Yoda and using code Yoda at checkout. That's Casper Dot com slash Iota Code Yoda why O._D._A. AT checkout terms and conditions additions apply so do you think that what was driving him at that time I mean when he put what what what why this idea. Why was this so important to him? It's one of those things that I think was. I think it was something he was trying to get out of his system again. It was it was really important but it was interesting in when I was doing the research to what we talked about it early on one of the first interviews he's calling it swords and sorcery and James Bond type stuff yeah what you know it doesn't it doesn't even sound like something even sure he knows early on quite what he wants to do with it and when you start art reading those early drafts of the Star Wars they are such a mess but you know I think it goes to show it. We're Lucas interests are when no one's pulling on his Cape if you will and trying to restrain him it's like he's really into backstory story so we should have never been surprised that the phantom menace attack owns a lot of backstage came about tax policy. I mean that's that's some of it was presient. Was it not yeah tax and trade policy exactly tariff wars are easy to win but you know so. I think you know you you have no people that had to push back and collaborate with him to try to restrain those sort of things and it it really is a perfect storm of collaboration which Lucas as always really good collaboration getting credit for that he's willing to you know I mean showing that first cut of star wars two friends and fellow <unk> director he admired must have really been excruciating and then getting done and having you know I think it was I can't forget that anybody telling them that they opening crawl doesn't work and that they should reshoot. I mean that that's going on a pump with no pants on and it's really brave of him to do that. Even with people he trusts so he was always really good about collaborating with that and there's a lot of a lot of the things that make star wars. Good are in those collaborative. What's your favorite story if you can remember it of him <hes> collaborating with actors because he's notoriously difficult for actors? I everyone needs to follow more Campbell on twitter because he tells lots of great stories I love I love even when he's directing American graffiti and he's just so exhausted that he's hanging hanging off of these slings off the side of the cars and they find him almost asleep and dead in the harness. The stories I love about Lucas with with actors is that he doesn't really know how to direct them. <hes> you know Lucas's right and better and faster better fat better better and faster and more intense. That's about it for him or do it again. Only better which you know Carrie Fisher's and it is it is really interesting again. This is all stuff that I didn't realize until I started looking into him. In reading on these stories and listening people talk about it's odd term but he really did consider himself. A documentary filmmaker and star wars really is shot like a documentary which we don't think about but you know that's part what makes it look so foreign but acceptable and understandable at the same time as he would put the camera there and then let people just wander into shot like it was a documentary film and he doesn't bother to you know he learned this from Saleh. He doesn't bother to tell us you know. Give us any any background. JUST GONNA ASSUME WE'RE GONNA get like curse would drop us into fourteenth century Japan. He's like people look got it and Lucas kind of does that star wars but it is really interesting to just watch when once I was aware that watch how he works watch those shots where the cameras the cameras not following anybody cameras just sitting there letting people come in and out of shot <hes> you know and and you did a really organic interesting way of working and I love listening to Ron Howard talking about that when they were making graffiti saying as an actor. You don't actually know where you're being shot from are you in close up looks like don't worry about it. Don't worry again is the way you you know. How do you treat your actors like? Don't worry about it just come in and act and they're like but I don't worry about your motivation just coming into it so star Wars Lore suggests that his wife his then wife Marsha who is an editor on the project was one of the salvations one of the saviors of the film. Yes in your based on your research. Do you think that's true. I think that's absolutely true. Talk about absolutely true first of all Marcia is the one that kept the lights on while he was writing star wars right and spending all of his own money from American aircon graffiti to fund star wars and she's directing Martin Scorsese films in Arizona and things like that <hes> but she had this really intuitive sense probably more than heated and it looks pretty good about this but she always tended to be able to view a movie from the perspective of the audience which I know seems weird when you deal in film but like she really had she really had the ability to know what the audience's expectations were where the audience was gonna feel invested and where he would feel got ripped off. Something didn't happen so for example two big moments of hers. There's one that touches. Zayn Indiana Jones as well but in Star Wars for example and first of all had to kill Lucas to hand over the keys to the editing table to a trio of people me Lucas's fantastic film editor really his superpower but he's so busy with Star Wars. You can't really do it it himself and it's interesting. It's like when you know when Phil Collins Leaves Genesis it takes three drummers to fill in for when <hes> with Lucas leaves it takes three people to edit the movie and marshes one of the lead editors on that but she's the one who talks about the millennium she tells him if if the crowd doesn't cheer when the Millennium Falcon at the end of the movie doesn't work George and she's right and she's the one who when they get to the raiders of the lost Ark says you gotta bring them closure with him and Marian. We don't ever see her again after the art scene. You've got to bring her back. Audience is going to expect that you've sold them short and she's right. They had to bring them all back to the scene on the steps so she she had a really good feel for the way the audience would respond but she's also the one that cut together those dogfight scenes around the death star using if they had had eight seconds of footage of especially she was gonna use all eight seconds because that's all they have. I was GONNA say sometimes that's all they have all they had and it all went and she was one and then she cut in you know Carrie Fisher responding and here they come and so she's the one that figured out how to pay it. What's really amazing? When when you watch that dunk piscine you can actually tell what's going on <hes> which is really hard and so that's that's really her her real strength and I think she makes those movies coherent? She's really really talented. When Lucas was young he got in a very tragic car accident and what you think the impact of that was on him yeah? I think that that's a formative moment in his life now typical of Lucas he as he tells that story throughout his career it gets worse and worse but when he was a senior in high school toes two weeks out from graduating <hes> he gets Tibo did his car at high speed and the car flips rolls crashes and it wraps itself around a tree and it's this devastating crash. It's on the front page of the local newspaper and you can I think I even have it in the book <hes> and and had he in the freak part of it is is he had jerry rigged up that car to be a drag racing kind of car so he could race it so it had a racing belt in it that was welded to the floor of the car that racing belts snapped and he was thrown clear of that car before anything really happened to it so his own you know the thing he had put in there to keep him in the car failed and threw him out of the car and his life was saved and <hes> he ended up with Bruce along and I think he broke his clavicle and the again the great thing about Lucas's initially the clavicle and the lungs and then as you start telling the story over the years and it's like did it was pronounced dead on arrival and he was in a coma for like it just gets worse and worse it goes on but but always better better and faster better faster. That's that's right so but it's a really informative moment in his life because you know regardless of how bad it is or how long he was in a coma or if he was a moment that he stops for a second because he really was kind of on the road to know L. where he was a terrible student wasn't really interested in school and shouldn't reading and that's the one time in his life when he goes wow I really feel like and he says something accent. I feel like every day. Now is an extra day and the day after that is another extra day. I really think it it both slowed him down and spent him up because that's the moment you sort of see rocket fuel in his in his in his blood that he really starts going after and trying to do a lot of different thing I really think he did feel like he'd squandered his opportunities up until that point and that was reminder of my gosh everyday really does matter <music>. Everyday is important. It's a it's a big moment in his life and career so do you think that made him go for broke more thereafter. I think it very well could have you know and that's the moment that he's willing to buck his father. You know his father who worshiped and was slightly terrified out and that's what look I'm going to go down and I'm going to study cinematography and you can disinherit me if he was his father thought he wasn't he had to convince his father. It was not arts right. He picks him atomic science so but you know but it is a moment we sort of bucking his father and and you know moving down on say which is a big deal for word. You didn't go much beyond his own backyard. <hes> what did you how which of the principal actors did you talk to tell you. This didn't talk with any of them did you. I assume you tried to talk with all of them. Yes I didn't get any any of them and it's hard to get people inside the organization because there's everybody's got a nondisclosure agreement so do yup on a movie. That's this old if they if they had lucasfilm inside them while not necessarily the atra but I mean if you want to talk about anything inside Lucasville I almost everybody's got an N._D._a.. How was it getting the information you got through primary sources when so many people were locked up under N._D._A.? <hes> Well Gary Cartwright examples a great source and <hes> A. and producer the producer Gary Kurtz awfully what's weird to me. I don't know why I didn't talk to him. When I was running the Jim Henson Book Produced Star Crystal <hes> it just didn't even occur to me? I had Frank Oz. Why did he go for Keurig? I would go for Frank <hes> and <hes> and then on the I didn't talk to Frank Oz about George Lucas really yeah. I don't know why I didn't even think about that so I had Gary Kurtz and guy talked with oh my gosh all of a sudden Randal Kleiser is college roommate so you know so I found the ones that I could and the ones that had known them long enough that it's kind of like how the health and I'll talk. They don't really care <hes> interesting <hes>. So how do you think Lucas Sees Star Wars today <hes> given that he's I mean this is. I realize speculation on right right but I'm asking for speculation because I don't think anybody really know and I don't think he would be particularly honest depending on who's asking him but what knowing his life is you do from writing about it. What does your gut tell you? He thinks so he he's tiptoed around at before he's been he's been close to honest about at least a one point I think he he talked about going to the premiere of Force Awakens and calling it going to the wedding of divorce child which which I think is brutally honest for him experienced divorce and so and so I think that's probably the closest we'll find him gained being brutally honest about it. It's not a popcorn moment. No it's really not you know and I think he expected when he handed over the keys to star wars to Disney that he would still be allowed to drive the car and Disney's attitude was like no we paid you very well for the car and we appreciate all you've done for the car but we'll take it from here. I think that shocked him a little bit <hes> he thought they were GonNa take all of his treatments for the comes. So you mean from the time you believe that from the time he signed the deal he still believed that he was going to able to work collaboratively with collaboratively with them on plot so I think he thought moving forward is going to be different than it was. which again is why when when force awakens finally came out he compared it to a divorce you know I think he i? I'm sure it had to be hard for him to watch. I'll keep using this metaphor but it it you know to watch your kids. Grow up and go off and Mary other people that maybe you do or don't like but they're your kids so you're happy for them and they're going on and doing their own things things and maybe they have a job that you're. You're proud that they're doing that or maybe you're not. I think that's his relationship with Star Wars. It's like watching your children going out there where you have no control over them anymore and you still love them and hope the best for them but there's not a lot you can do about that and then we do hear stories from time to time that maybe he stepped in was allowed to a little bit yeah yeah yeah yeah or they. They actually did use some of his notes after all so anyway so I think he's got this. Maybe wistful view of Star Wars now at this point. There's not a lot he can do about it. Disney him very well to go away. I think yeah why do you think <hes> speaking of someone. Who was there at the beginning? Why do you think that movie which became that franchise has resonated resonated so deeply because really there was no franchise right? If the movie hadn't resonated there would be no franchise so why did that movie resonate so deeply. You know it's this is this is such a cliche answer but it really is true and I and I think think about the way nine year. Old Brian even felt at that time coming out there that movie. It's just God damn fun. I mean there's and there's so much going on in it and again. It's it's the curse out within like he's not explaining anything to you. We're going to get here and why is the the ship old. Why is it looks like it's leaking oil? Where things not new thought science fiction everything was new? He was doing so much in it. That was unexpected but it's so it's so organically done that. It seems like it should have been that way all along you. Weren't you making movies where the spaceships were old junkies. Isn't that the way it would have really been. My car is old junkie <hes> so so it was that was a crossover thing that's right. It's it's just so it was so fresh knew at the time that I think it took it. I mean it's on the cover of Time magazine Time magazines got up in the corner saying you know Oh my God surprise hit of the summer the science fiction movie with a walking carpet and I love I love watching the magazine Arts with everything the wrong name but you know I mean people were just. They were just stunned by this. I think it was a time again. When you know you had bad cops in the movies coming out of Watergate and I I really do think we were? He said that he actually said that and in Vietnam and we're I think we're kind of ready for this and I think that's why it hit and then they just kept doing it well after that I he he would his his pitch wise where people's dreams. Where are there <hes> mythologies? Why aren't they seen that on the big screen all we're feeding them is this trash and orcher and and and and he and I think thank you sincere when he says you know he says I think kids today? They deserve their own mythology. We had cowboys and Indians. They don't have that the new the new West is the outer space so it to him. I think there was almost a higher <hes> higher calling in that as well. That's true <hes> what surprised you the most. You spend three years looking into this man. What was the one thing that most surprised you about him again? I think it comes down to that eye on the ball mentality <hes> I love for example sample the way he treated Pixar. I think Pixar was one of the great surprises in there. I love the fact he's still to this day calls Pixar my company explain that yeah so so and so this is this is one of the things that surprised me but so so he he he can be so eye on the ball at times that he can't always even appreciate the ball that's in front of him so he really wanted digital filmmaking and and that's one of his great legacies is Detroit filmmaking and digital sound and so he has pixar within his own lucasfilm division creating the technology for this Lucas Sees Pixar as equipment can't see the possibilities inherent Pixar. He knows what he wants to do with it and that's not the company started making. They're making the equipment for for Lucas. Lucas watches you know the the the video that becomes the genesis effect in in Star Trek for example and he's Kinda standing in the doorway and he goes nice camera move and then he's just not interested because as far as he's concerned the only filmmaker at Lucasville Ms George Lucas so he can't he only he misses out on the possibilities of that he wants to. He wants to the toys with this sort of his M._o.. Time he wants the equipment and once he's got that he's that's really all he wants out of it and <hes> you know the poor guys inside Sony things we can do with this and we can make nope Lukas just isn't interested wow and gets rid of it in a fire sale after his divorce for for a song to Steve Jobs within sells it for seven billion the largest stakeholder inside Disney. I need to this day of Person George Lucas his estate who beat him out with Pixar but I love the Lucasville Calls Pixar Mike so let's imagine you put the call out and Lucasfilm gets back to you and says yes <hes> we changed our mind Brian. We're going to give you a sit down with George Lucas <hes> what are the questions if you have if you can only ask him two or three questions what are your kind of perfect questions for him that you'd want the answer to <hes> one that I would love to ask him is when is it enough meaning going back and touching up his films. When does he think they're done when when is when is the perfect attainable to him and that doesn't just apply stars applies to probably everything in his life? If you think there's an answer to that I I don't know that's why I would love to know how he would answer it. Is there an ideal version of American graffiti. He didn't get up onscreen. If he had the opportunity we could go back in digitize some additional footage into American graffiti. I don't know <hes> the other big question I would love to ask him mm-hmm and I don't know the answer to this the big question I would love to ask him is are you happy everybody bark hammill talks about how he's looked like he was ready to burst into tears when they were filmmaking and he would get physically sick and <hes> you know selling the company was a big deal to him. He's happily married. He has a lovely wife and a lovely child but is he is he happy I would. I would really like to know the answer to that one of the lines I used in the that is from. I think it might be from your book that <hes> that I used in the final episode. The series is him saying movies used to being everything to me and then I had kits yeah <hes> is he saying what's in his heart you think or is he saying what he can say because that's what he has a great question and with Lucas you have to be careful. Lucas knows what plays and what doesn't you know. I think it's one of those things that again comes with age. There's answers that you know growing up are safe answers and sound like the the well thought out answers and then once you actually do grow up and get older under you realize. They're the real answers so so I think I think he's sincere about that now. I think I do too. I think it's I think it's an answer he would have given you a nineteen eighty-three even but I think now he genuinely means it well. I think he may also it makes reference to the fact we <hes> when Spielberg since Richard Dreyfuss into space aliens. He said that was before he had kids in Spielberg has told me now the better ending to keep Richard Home Right he wouldn't have gone up in advance and you know what yeah I don't know if you would agree. I absolutely think that would be a better ending. I agree with your home. It's there. I'd like to see them. Go back and C._G._I.. That there you go so yeah so there are there other things Lucas would would re touch. Maybe with that hindsight coming into it Brian. Thank you so much for being here. Brian J Jones the author of many excellent popular biographies including Jim Henson the biography his new one becoming Dr seuss Theodor Geisel in the making of an American imagination and the one we're talking about George Lucas a life life. Thank you so much for being with US too. I really appreciate it thank you this was a lot of fun from wondering I'm Mark Ramsey and this has been a special bonus episode of Inside Star Wars Audio Design and production by Jeff Schmidt produced by Mark Ramsey Media Executive Producers Marshal Louis and Hernan Lopez four hundred subscribe at Apple Podcast spotify N._p._R.. One one DOT COM or wherever you're listening right now. If you like what you're hearing we'd love you to give us a five star rating and reviews and be sure to tell your friends and show them how to subscribe scribe find a link to subscribe to inside Star Wars and more information on the episodes just tap or swipe over the cover art. You'll also see some offers from our sponsors. Please support this show by supporting them. Join the conversation on twitter at Wondering Media Net.

Coming up next