You know that thing where your friend’s parents get divorced, and the dad doesn’t end up spending a lot of time with his kids, and then years later there’s a big celebration like a graduation or a wedding and he’s part of it but he’s not really part of it? That’s what the Force Awakens press tour has been like for George Lucas. Literally: “I call it like a divorce,” the director told the Washington Post this week. (Lucas got an actual divorce in 1983, so he’s not just hyperbolizing.) He says keeping in touch with Star Wars after it moved on without him would have only made things complicated for the kids, and so he decided to stay out of new stepdad J.J. Abrams’s way. “All I’d do is make them miserable,” he says. “I’d make myself miserable. It would probably ruin a vision — J.J. has a vision, and it’s his vision.”
It’s not the first time Lucas has used a relationship metaphor to explain his emotional separation from the new Star Wars movies. Last month, he told CBS This Morning he tried to keep his distance from the franchise after selling it to Disney: “When you break up with somebody, the first rule is no phone calls. The second rule, you don’t go over to their house and drive by to see what they’re doing. The third one is you don’t show up at their coffee shop and say you are going to burn it … You just say ‘Nope, gone, history, I’m moving forward.’” It was nobody’s fault, he said; mommy and daddy just realized they wanted different things. “[Disney] looked at the stories [Lucas had planned for the sequels], and they said, ‘We want to make something for the fans,’” he said. “People don’t actually realize it’s actually a soap opera and it’s all about family problems — it’s not about spaceships.”
But if you see George Lucas standing by himself at the party, quietly sipping a Yuengling, don’t feel bad; he’s doing great. As he told Vanity Fair, the marriage took a lot out of him: “You go to make a movie, and all you do is get criticized, and people try and make decisions about what you’re going to do before you do it. It’s not much fun, and you can’t experiment.” Now, Lucas is glad to finally be free: He’s making experimental films, and it’s going really well. Still, though, if the moment is right, he might corner you and launch into a discussion of the old days — including a 13-minute monologue about why Greedo needed to shoot first.