George Lucas is opening up. The Star Wars mastermind recently sat down with CBS News’ Charlie Rose for a one-on-one interview, which spanned 55 minutes and myriad topics, including — yes — the new Star Wars film.
Here are the five big takeaways from the interview:
Lucas has some issues with The Force Awakens
Throughout his interview with Rose, Lucas shares his misgivings about making popular movies, because that’s not what he wants to watch anymore. He says he started early work Episode VII and compiled story outlines, but Disney, which had full control the sale of Lucasfilm, had plans of its own. “I sold them to the white slavers that takes these things, and…” Lucas says before laughing and cutting himself short. Lucas says he decided to go his own way and let J.J. Abrams create his own vision. “They wanted to do a retro movie. I don’t like that,” Lucas adds. “Every movie, I work very hard to make them completely different, with different planets, with different spaceships, make it new.”
He doesn’t want his legacy to be his films
With massive pop culture footprints and billions of dollars earned, Star Wars and Indiana Jones make for an enviable legacy. But Lucas doesn’t want to be remembered for that; parenthood reigns supreme. “I gave up directing in order to become a dad for 15 years,” he says. “I just ran a company and was an innovator, but it was not doing what I really like to do, which is make movies.” Lucas made the decision after creating Return of the Jedi, and didn’t look back for a decade and a half. “It was one of those things where you don’t expect it to happen, but once I was a dad, it was like a bolt of lightning struck me.”
Lucas wanted to be Michael Moore
Though his name is inextricable from that galaxy far, far away, Lucas’ cinematic ambition lay outside of popcorn films. “I fell into popular movies by accident. I always disliked Hollywood theatrical movies. I didn’t want anything to do with them,” he tells Rose. Instead, Lucas says he wanted to make films like the Michigan documentarian Michael Moore. “My ambition then was to … cause trouble, because — again, I grew up in the ’60s, I’m a ’60s kind of guy, I always have been. I grew up in San Francisco Bay Area. That was my environment that I grew up in, and I was perfectly happy to do it.” He and longtime friend Francis Ford Coppola moved to San Francisco to create their own film company before both jumped into the Hollywood machine.
He wanted Star Wars to influence kids
Lucas was deep into the art scene before he made Star Wars, and his plan to make space opera was met with skepticism. “When I started to go into Star Wars, [my friends] said, ‘Why are you making a children’s film?’” he recounts. “I said, ‘Well, because I think I can have more of an influence on people, and I think that I can have things to say to actually influence kids — adolescents, 12-year-olds — that are trying to make their way into the bigger world.” Lucas tells Rose he wanted to create a new “national mythology” to echo what society believed and valued at the time.
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The aftermath of Star Wars
Star Wars ushered in a change in Hollywood, Lucas says, and studios became more risk-averse, only wanting to bet on “sure” things. “The other thing that got abused,” Lucas explains, “the studios and everything said, ‘Wow, we can make a lot of money. This is the license to kill.’ And they did it. And the only way you can do that is not take chances, only do something that’s proven. … Now, if you do anything that’s not a sequel, or not a TV series, or doesn’t look like one, they won’t do it.”
See the full interview above. The Force Awakens is in theaters now.