Ron Howard, Robert Zemeckis & Steven Spielberg All Turned Down Directing The ‘Star Wars’ Prequels

Ron Howard, Robert Zemeckis & Steven Spielberg All Turned Down Directing The 'Star Wars' Prequels

Ron Howard is no stranger to the world of Lucasfilm. He starred in George Lucas’ “America Graffiti” and in fact, the director of the upcoming drama, “In The Heart Of The Sea,” got his first taste of big budget filmmaking when he directed the Lucas-conceived and produced fantasy adventure film, “Willow.”

Howard was a guest on the HappySadConfused podcast this week and the show’s host asked Howard why he wasn’t asked to direct the “Star Wars” prequels.

“He did, he did [ask],” Howard said. “He didn’t necessarily want to direct them, and he told me that he had talked to [Robert] Zemeckis, he talked to me, he talked to Steven Spielberg. I was the third one he spoke to. They had all said the same thing, ‘George, you should just do it!’”

And by the sounds of it. Howard didn’t even really consider it. He said “Willow” was his “least personal” film because it was in service to Lucas’ vision and added about “Star Wars”: “I don’t think anybody wanted to follow up that act at the time. It was an honor, but it would’ve been too daunting.”

Lucas would obviously go on to heed all the advice and direct the films himself, but the backlash was so difficult, it’s lead the filmmaker to walk away from the “Star Wars” universe. He even recently sounded rather miffed again when Disney decided to not use his treatments for the new trilogy which he suggests are centered on the grandchildren of the original generation. “They decided they didn’t want to use those stories, they decided they were gonna go do their own thing,” Lucas said. “They weren’t that keen to have me involved anyway. But at the same time, I said if I get in there I’m just going to cause trouble.”

It’s probable that Lucas asked Zemeckis, Speilberg and Howard to direct all three, but imagine ‘Phantom Menace,‘ ‘Attack Of The Clones‘ and ‘Revenge Of The Sith‘ each directed by that trio? Shoulda woulda coulda. Howard also mentioned he’s been offered superhero movies in the past, but his heart just wasn’t in it.

“I’ve had opportunities over the years, and I really feel like that you shouldn’t make a movie as a kind of an [intellectual] exercise,” he explained. “And I was never a comic-book guy. I like the movies when I see them for the most part, especially the origin stories. But I never felt I could be on the set at 3 o’clock in the morning, tired, with ten important decisions to make, and that I intuitively on a gut level know what the story needs. It’s a little bit different tone. … For me, I’d be copycatting, and not inventing. So I’ve just never said yes to one.” 

It’s a fascinating conversation, so sit back and listen to the whole interview below.

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Comments

Emperor Zerg Rush

It’s not hard to imagine any of these guys behind the camera but it’s also likely that Lucas would’ve been interfering with whatever changes they might’ve done to anything every step of the way, ensuring that the outcome still would have been similar to what we have with the prequels, if not exactly the same.

Emperor Zerg Rush

James – I’d rather IndieWire just get a better comment system entirely.

James

Can we get a list of banned words? It’s so frustrating being told a comment is "spammy" and not knowing which word in an entire comment caused that message.

James

Spielberg worked some on the third prequel, watch the "making of" documentary on the DVD. He had a film fall apart that summer before production, so he was free. He was involved in directing the pre-vis of the final Yoda/Emperor fight, and the final Anakin/Obi-Wan fight, among other things. In the doc, Lucas actually introduces Spielberg to the crew as their "guest director".

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