Charlie Rose sat down for a lengthy chat with George Lucas, at the filmmaker’s very cozy Skywalker Ranch, before the holidays. In the ensuing interview, which aired on Christmas, the Star Wars mastermind talked at length about everything from his decorated-but-not-ideal career to his Steven Spielberg competitions, his Michael Moore aspirations, and his soap-y view of Star Wars. Roll the nearly hour-long discussion here:
There are plenty of interesting gems above, especially when Lucas gets to the risk-taking (or lack thereof) in today’s movie industry — or the details of his future. The most noteworthy segment of the conversation, however, pops up near the end (around the 50-minute mark), when Lucas describes the background of his new relationship with Disney, thanks to The Force Awakens and the $4 billion sale of his brainchild. There’s a tinge of disappointment or something like it:
[Disney] said we want to make [the new trilogy] for the fans. So I said all I wanted to do is tell the story of what happened. You know, it started here and it went there. It’s all about generations and it’s about the issues of fathers and sons and grandfathers — it’s a family soap opera, I mean, ultimately. We call it a space opera, but people don’t realize it’s actually a soap opera. It’s all about family problems. It’s not about spaceships.
So they decided they didn’t want to use those stories. They decided they were going to go do their own thing. I decided, Fine, but basically … they weren’t that keen to have me involved, anyway. But at the same time … if I get in there, I’m just gonna cause trouble, because they’re not gonna do what I want them to do. And I don’t have the control to do that anymore — all I would do is muck everything up. So I said, Okay, I will go my way, and I’ll let them go their way.
And it really does come down to a really simple rule of life, which is when you break up with somebody, 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 … you just say, Nope, gone, history. I’m moving forward. We all learn this from experience: Every time you do something like that, you’re opening the wound again, and it just makes it harder for you. You have to put it behind you, and it’s a very, very hard thing to do. But you have to just cut it off and say Okay, end of ball game, I gotta move on. And everything in your body says, Don’t, you can’t.
These are my kids. I loved them, I created them, I’m very intimately involved with them, and I sold them to the white slavers that take these things and … [laughs].
In the end, I knew there were three more stories, and I knew that would probably take, to do it right, would take ten years. I said, I’m 70, I don’t know if I’m going to be here when I’m 80. Every ten years the odds get less. So I said, And I’m not ready, because I want to do these other things. So I have to make the decision on my own, and it’s time for me to move on.
Rose unfortunately doesn’t push Lucas on the slaver quip, but it’s clear, from the latter portion of the interview, that Lucas isn’t satisfied with certain aspects of his creation’s legacy. To that end, Lucas mentions he doesn’t like the retro direction of TFA, stressing he always tried to forge something different with his films — but then he also claims he’s at peace. (“I think the fans are going to love it,” he told us ahead of this month’s premiere. “It’s very much the kind of movie they’ve been looking for.”) It’s complicated. As for the other parties in this breakup, J.J. & Co. seem to be doing okay.
Update: In a statement released to the media Thursday, Lucas apologized for some of his above remarks and emphasized that they came before TFA unspooled. Read his explanation in full below (via the Wrap):
I want to clarify my interview on the Charlie Rose Show. It was for the Kennedy Center Honors and conducted prior to the premiere of the film. I misspoke and used a very inappropriate analogy and for that I apologize.
I have been working with Disney for 40 years and chose them as the custodians of Star Wars because of my great respect for the company and Bob Iger’s leadership. Disney is doing an incredible job of taking care of and expanding the franchise. I rarely go out with statements to clarify my feelings but I feel it is important to make it clear that I am thrilled that Disney has the franchise and is moving it in such exciting directions in film, television and the parks. Most of all I’m blown away with the record breaking blockbuster success of the new movie and am very proud of JJ and Kathy.