It turns out that “creative consultant” is little more than a title, as George Lucas and Star Wars: The Last Jedi star Mark Hamill have learned.
When Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, it turned the Star Wars franchise upside down, with the creator of that galaxy far, far away relinquishing his creative control to new filmmakers. Lucas was kept on as a “creative consultant” to Disney’s new Star Wars trilogy, which began with 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But Lucas’ close friend and collaborator Mark Hamill bemoans the fact that the director’s advice to Disney was thrown out the window.
Star Wars is the defining science-fiction series of the past 40 years — how many directors can boast that on their resume? But George Lucas may have lost a lot of the goodwill he had in creating Star Wars with those convoluted, much-maligned prequels. But is that enough for Disney to completely shut him out of the creative process for the new Star Wars trilogy?
Lucas received a creative consultant title for the new Star Wars films in 2013, but Disney reportedly scrapped his ideas for a new trilogy in favor of what eventually would become the story of The Force Awakens. Lucas was not the only one who was miffed about this. His longtime friend Mark Hamill, who received the breakout role of his career thanks to Lucas casting him in Star Wars: A New Hope, was also upset in his stead. In an interview with Metro, Hamill lamented that Disney ignored George Lucas’ advice for Star Wars Episodes 7, 8, and 9:
“What I wish is that they had been more accepting of his guidance and advice. Because he had an outline for ‘7,’ ‘8,’ and ‘9’. And it is vastly different to what they have done.”
It’s possible fragments of Lucas’ original outlines remain in the new trilogy — we did learn that in the ’70s, Lucas had asked Hamill if he could reprise his role as a wizened Luke Skywalker, much like he does in The Last Jedi. But otherwise, Lucas has stepped back from the franchise he once created, though not without making the occasional cutting remark about Disney.
We don’t know what the series would have been like if Lucas had had a more prominent roles in crafting the new trilogy. With Disney at the helm, he probably would have been forced to roll back the stilted dialogue and clunky plotting that plagued the prequels — and threatened to plague the originals if not for sheer charisma of Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford. But it doesn’t do to dwell on the past, as The Force Awakens was a soaring achievement creatively and commercially — making more than $2 billion worldwide — and The Last Jedi promises to live up to the hype.
Hamill may be loyal to Lucas to a fault, but even he can’t ignore the successes of the new films under Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy’s watchful eye and the direction of skilled filmmakers like J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson. He continued:
“I don’t want to be an old stick in the mud. There were the originals. There’s the prequels. But that’s all George. And now we have the next generation. And as far as I can see they are more popular than ever.”
Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters on December 15, 2017.
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