Star Trek director JJ Abrams currently holds the reins of Star Wars sequel The Force Awakens (and is doing a pretty good job, one of his cast has told us) – but the film series’ creator originally planned to be at the helm again.
Speaking to USA Today, Star Wars writer/creator George Lucas revealed that prior to his company LucasFilm’s acquisition by Disney three years ago, he had planned to work on a third trilogy of Star Wars films himself with Episode VII due in May of this year.
The genesis of the plans can possibly be seen in this 1983 interview with original series actor Mark Hamill, which appears to anticipate The Force Awakens’ plot (Lucas is a creative consultant for the film).
“He at one time asked, ‘would you consider playing an Obi-Wan-type character handing Excalibur down to the next generation?’” Hamill said. “I said, ‘When would that be?’ and at the time he said, ‘Aww, around 2011.’”
However, once Lucas realised that the time commitment the project would require was too much for him to handle, he decided to give up the plans.
“It’s better for me to get out at the beginning of a new thing and I can just remove myself,” he said. “The time is more important to me than the money,”
The writer/director also said his decision to step back from the franchise has a silver lining.
“The only thing I really regret about Star Wars is the fact I never got to see it — I never got to be blown out of my seat when the ship came over the screen,” he said. “The next one, I’ll be able to enjoy it like anybody else.”
Lucas added: “My motivation has always been just doing what I want to do and making a movie that I think will be interesting, and that’s just been the way I’ve done it my whole life.”
“I never expected to be successful — it’s just one of those things that happened. It happened that the stuff I like everybody else liked.”
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is released in UK cinemas on 18th December 2015