Back in 2015, George Lucas suggested that he wasn’t particularly impressed by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, although much of the headlines at the time centred on his comments comparing Disney to “white slavers”.
Nevertheless, we got some further insight this year thanks to Disney chief Bob Iger’s book, with Iger revealing that Lucas was angry, upset and disappointed with the direction that Disney and Lucasfilm opted to go with for Episode VII and the rest of the Sequel Trilogy, and now both Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy and The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams have weighed in with their thoughts on Lucas’ reaction.
“I think there’s plenty of examples where people create something that is fundamental to who they are, where it’s difficult letting go and watching that become something different,” said Kennedy in an interview with Rolling Stone. “So I think initially, that was difficult for George — I don’t think he anticipated how hard that would be. And J.J. came into it with such enthusiasm and, frankly, reverence for Star Wars and for George, and had to find what was personal for him. He had to make it his own. Every director who comes into a movie has to make something their own; they have to find themselves in the storytelling. And then that’s going to become a different point of view. And I think that’s all George was reacting to.”
Abrams meanwhile, who has since consulted with Lucas during development on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, also shared his thoughts on learning that the creator of the galaxy far, far away wasn’t particularly impressed with his vision:
“It’s probably a complicated thing for him,” said Abrams. “To decide you’re going to sell this thing that you created, that was your baby, to anyone — that must be more complicated than signing a check and smiling about it. But he’s been incredibly gracious. He’s been super-generous. He came over, we had a meeting when we first started working on [The Rise of Skywalker], talked through a ton of different ideas and stories, and heard from him what was important. And we’ve done nothing but try and adhere to some fundamental aspects of the story. It wasn’t a difficult thing to try and do. And again, he was really gracious. So I’m only grateful. Do I wish that [The Force Awakens] had been his favorite movie of all time? Yes, I only wanted to do well by him. I would just say that I have nothing but profound respect for the guy and am still truly, even more so now, working on these movies in awe of what he created.”
“The idea was to continue the story and to begin with this young woman who felt like Luke Skywalker was a myth,” said Abrams, addressing criticisms from both Lucas and fans that The Force Awakens was a rehash of 1977’s A New Hope. “And to tell a story that was not just history repeating itself, but a story that embraced the movies that we know as the actual history of this galaxy. So that they are still living in a place where there is good versus evil, they’re still living in the shadow of what has come before, still grappling with the sins of the father and the people who have preceded them. This was not about a nostalgia play. It felt, to me, like a way of saying, ‘Let’s go back to a Star Wars that we know, so we can tell another story.”
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is set for release on December 19th 2019 in the UK and December 20th 2019 in North America. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker sees J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) directing a cast that includes Star Wars veterans Daisy Ridley (Rey), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), Billie Lourd (Lieutenant Connix), Greg Grunberg (Snap Wexley), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) and Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa) as well as new additions Naomi Ackie (Lady Macbeth), Richard E. Grant (Logan), Dominic Monaghan (Lost), and Keri Russell (The Americans).