In his first convention appearance since 1987, George Lucas
made his grand entrance early Saturday morning to thousands of fans who waited outside overnight in the cold and rain.
Episode III Producer Rick McCallum came out to introduce two of Lucas' children, Jett and Katie, who have roles in Revenge of the Sith as Zett Jukassa and Chi Eekway, respectively. After the introduction, a thunderous standing ovation, and millions of camera flashes, Lucas sat down to take questions from the crowd.
"The last convention I did was in 1987 for the tenth anniversary of Star Wars", recalled Lucas. "That's as far as I thought we'd get. I never thought we'd be doing this."
Not the first question, but probably the one most anticipated by fans was about the future of Star Wars
on television. "You know we're doing a pilot television series now called Clone Wars
," said Lucas. "Well we're going to take that and turn it into a 3-D animated version full series." Lucas described the episodes as being 30 minutes in length.
"We're also working on a spin-off series," he added, "with some characters who have appeared before that will be a live action series. We're probably not going to start that for about a year. Like on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, we want to write all the stories for the entire first season all at once. I'm going to get it started, and hire the show runners and all of that, then I'll probably step away." Even host Jay Laga'aia had a hard time concentrating after that news.
Elaborating on the television series' setting in the chronology of the saga, Lucas explained that the idea currently in development takes place between Episodes III and IV. "There's none of the main characters from I, II, and III (or IV, V and VI for that matter) in the..." he stopped in mid-sentence. "Well, actually, that's not exactly true now that I think about it. We haven't really started the TV show, so it's hard to answer. There's a lot of issues that are connected, but you won't necessarily see a lot of the people that are connected."
A fan asked the chances of exploring the KOTOR-era Jedi or the origins of the Sith on TV, and Lucas stated that if the television projects are successful, he would examine the possibility of moving elsewhere in the saga.
Asked which idea came first... Anakin or Luke, Lucas explained the genesis of the series, "There was originally to be one film, I wanted it to be Episode IV of a serial (maybe out of 12 or something) that you would never see the first or last episodes of. That's what happened in the '30s, you had trailers, and a short cartoon, and then a cliffhanger. That serial-style is what Star Wars is based on."
"I started with Anakin Starkiller and his two kids, then I got to a draft that's kind of what we know now, but it was 200 pages. Then that became three films. I never thought I'd go back and do the original stories, regardless of what the press says or what's out there. But then the necessary film technology came along and I came to grips with being known forever as George 'Star Wars' Lucas."
Getting back to the point, Lucas summed up, "To answer your question, I started with the space battle. I thought that would be great."
Asked about the possibility of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles on DVD, Lucas joked at the perfect lead-in question, "Is this a set-up?" He added, "We are working very hard on completing the entire series with about 100 documentaries to do along with it, based on the main historical characters found in the series."
Regarding the grown up Indiana Jones, people wanted to know when the man in the hat was coming back. "As a matter of fact, I just received the new script two days ago. I have yet to read it," he said. "I'd like to be able to read it this weekend. I'll be talking to Steven on Monday, and then we'll figure out what we're going to do. So, it's definitely in the works."
Beyond Indy, Lucas also answered a question about another popular Lucasfilm character, Willow Ufgood. His response to a fan who asked about the possibilities of Willow II: "I was actually just talking to Warwick Davis backstage, and we were communing on the possibility, wouldn't it be wonderful to someday do a Willow TV series. I can't say that we'll do that, but, [Lucasfilm] is moving into television, and a lot of ideas are popping up." Lucas went on to say later that other projects on the horizon include a feature film about African-American pilots serving in World War II that Lucas will produce.
Lucas touched upon a frequently asked question: what was the imagined storyline beyond Episode VI? "To be very honest with you, I never ever thought of anything that happened beyond Episode VI," Lucas said. "It's the Darth Vader story. It starts with him being a young boy and it ends with him dying. The other books and everything kind of go off on their path, but I never ever really considered ever taking that particular story further."
Naturally, a fan solicited his thoughts on Revenge of the Sith
. "It's everything I want it to be," Lucas said simply. "Of course, everyone has their own opinion about these things. Star Wars
fans are especially independent. I'm very happy with all the Star Wars
films. They're not really separate, they're one long movie all build up on top of each other. There are things that were placed in Episodes IV, V and VI that tie into this one, and vice versa. I'm very happy I got it finished the way I wanted it to," he concluded.
Lucas confirmed his upcoming appearance in Episode III, dressed in a regal outfit and painted in blue skin to become Baron Papanoida. "I have a scene with Chi Eekway. She convinced me that I had to do the scene with her," said Lucas.
When asked what involvement Steven Speilberg had in Episode III, Lucas joked, "He did all of it!" He continued, "Steven had a project not happen and he had all summer sitting around in the Hamptons and he was going crazy. So I said 'I have some action sequences, I'll send over a pre-viz guy to do some work with you by the pool.' So Steven did some elaborate storyboards, and some very Speilberg-ian storyboards, and some storyboards that made it into the movie. I won't tell you which ones, 'cause I want to take credit."
Asked about the rating of Revenge of the Sith, Lucas confirmed that the film will carry a PG-13 rating. "We made no edits," he said. "There's only slight differences from what we've done before. You see how Anakin gets the way he is at the end of Return of the Jedi, and obviously it's not pleasant. And we cut off a few more arms and legs."
If Lucas had a choice to play a character from all the Star Wars characters, his choice was R2-D2. Answering a curious fan who wondered if it was possible that R2-D2 had Force powers as explanation for his supernatural ability to escape danger and rescue his friends, he responded, "He doesn't need any special powers. He's already the most powerful person on the screen there. R2-D2 is the hero. He is the one who gets them out of the mess, every time!"
The most Barbara Walters-style question of the bunch: if he had a lightsaber, what color would Lucas' lightsaber be? "That's a personal question, isn't it?" quipped host Jay Laga'aia.
"I have two lightsabers," Lucas smiled. "I have a red one and a blue one. I'm like Grievous. I sort of collect them. Depending on how I feel that morning, I use one or the other."
A fan asked what Lucas thought of the passionate fans who have devoted so much of their lives to the Star Wars experience. "I'm very grateful to you all," he said. "I've been very surprised. Star Wars is something to enjoy and take away what you can from it that maybe helps you in your lives. Don't let it take over your lives. That's what they all say about Trekkies, and I know Star Wars fans don't do that. The point of the movies is to get on with your lives, to take that challenge, to leave your uncle's moisture farm, to go out in the world and change it to save the universe."