Few film producers are as famous today as George Lucas, the “father” of the Star Wars epic universe. Having created the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, Lucas has left an indelible mark in cinematic history. He also founded giant companies like Lucasfilm, LucasArts and Industrial Light & Magic.
At the age of 75, he’s been active in Hollywood for 45 years and would have abundant stories to reveal about how all his films were made, his interaction with all the celebrities he’s crossed paths with, and all the amazing ideas he has developed over the years.
So let’s explore some of the top 10 interesting facts about George Lucas and his work!
George Lucas Top Facts
1. He wanted to be a pilot first
In his teenage years, George Lucas planned to join the Air Force and saw himself as a successful pilot like his character, Luke Skywalker, would be in Star Wars. However, he had a penchant for speed and used to race cars. He actually had hoped to be a professional race-car driver, but had an accident which derailed that plan. Afterwards, he was rejected from the Air Force because he had accumulated too many speeding tickets, an interesting fact about George Lucas.
2. We owe Chewbacca and Indiana Jones to his dog
When he was writing the first Star Wars film, George Lucas owned an Alaskan Malamute called Indiana. The large long-haired dog inspired Lucas to come up with the much beloved character of Chewbacca – shaggy and large!
Additionally, when writing the Indiana Jones series, Lucas decided to name his lead character after his dog, too.
3. Francis Ford Coppola was his mentor
You could say George Lucas learnt from the best. His first job in Hollywood was as an intern on the set of 1968 musical “Finian’s Rainbow” which was directed by Coppola. He then went on to work on the set of “The Rain People” for Coppola and the latter took him on as a mentee.
After “The Godfather,” Francis Ford Coppola urged George Lucas to try and write a commercial film (he’d had some flops by that point) – Lucas wrote “American Graffiti” which Coppola then produced. This film was a massive success commercially and with critics, being nominated for five Oscars including for Best Picture.
An interesting fact about George Lucas is that their relationship continued and went on to influence Lucas’ character creation. He apparently based Han Solo on Coppola after spending time with the director on the set of “Apocalypse Now.”
4. He’s been nominated for the Razzies and won one
The Golden Raspberries, the famous awards for worst films and perfomances, have not overlooked George Lucas. In spite of being nominated for multiple Oscars and Golden Globes for his work, as well as many other important awards, Lucas has been nominated five times for the Razzies and he even won the award for Worst Screenplay for “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones” in 2003.
5. He loves Jar Jar!
When the new series of three films came out in the Star Wars Universe in the 2000s, fans were dismayed at the choice of new characters and creatures, and especially this one. Jar Jar Binks is considered by most to be the series’ least likable character because of his goofiness which didn’t quite align to the other non-human cast members we’ve all grown to know and love over the years. When interviewed on the occasion of the 20-year anniversary of “The Phantom Menace,” George Lucas stated that this was his favourite movie of the series and “of course, Jar Jar is [his] favourite character.” Maybe he was just doing it for PR?
6. He was a cameraman for the Rolling Stones
In 1969, the Rolling Stones put together the concert film “Gimme Shelter” which is a classic documentary now. A fun fact about George Lucas is that he was a camera operator for that film in his youth, getting a taste of Hollywood.
7. Lucas is a fine art collector
George Lucas has been spending his fortune on art, amongst other passions. He is known to be a collector of works by Norman Rockwell, and he owns lots of his paintings and drawings. Along with Steven Spielberg, they lent 57 of these to the Smithsonian American Art Museum for a temporary exhibition in 2010-2011.
8. Lucas is at the roots of some of the most fantastic special effects we know
In 1975, George Lucas founded Industrial Light and Magic to work on the special effects for Star Wars, and this is how the company got its first big success. Afterwards, ILM has continued to be the special effects house for some of the best known films of our time: Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Cocoon, Jumanji, Titanic and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
9. He plans to leave half his fortune to charity
George Lucas signed the Giving Pledge in 2010. This is an organisation that commits the richest people in the world to gift half their fortune to some form of charity upon passing away. He has specified education as his main focus. This would mean half of c. $5.3 billion would go to improving education projects and charities, a fun fact about George Lucas.
10. He has some regrets on selling Lucasfilm to Disney
With plans to wind down, in 2012, George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney, giving them control over the Star Wars franchise. This made Lucas $4 billion.
However, in 2015, he criticised how “The Force Awakens” was made and considered it too retro, and also called the Walt Disney Company “white slavers” in a controversial interview. He later apologised and commended Disney for how they’re managing the franchise, but it’s clear he had some misgivings about it to begin with.
George Lucas gave the world some amazing stories and universes, thanks to his own incredible imagination and hard work. His groundbreaking contributions into special effects and animation are at the roots of modern developments, as well as the CGI animation industry dominated by Pixar. Here you have 10 top facts about the creator of the Star Wars universe!
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