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George Lucas Expected Disney to Give Him ‘a Little Bit More Say’ in ‘Star Wars’ Sequel Trilogy

Lucas says giving up Lucasfilm to Disney was "very, very painful."

"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker"

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / © Lucasfilm / courtesy Everett Collection

Eight years after Lucasfilm sold to Disney in a deal worth over $4 billion, George Lucas says the decision to give up control of his iconic space franchise remains “very, very painful.” Lucas sat down with author Paul Duncan for an interview as part of the just-released new book “The Star Wars Archives: Episodes I-III 1999-2005,” an excerpt from which finds the filmmaker getting honest about his career-defining decision to prioritize family over “Star Wars.”

“At that time, I was starting the next trilogy; I talked to the actors and I was starting to gear up,” Lucas told Duncan when asked about why he sold Lucasfilm to Disney. “I was also about to have a daughter with my wife. It takes 10 years to make a trilogy — Episodes I to III took from 1995 to 2005. I’d still be working on Episode IX. In 2012, I was 69. So the question was, ‘Am I going to keep doing this for the rest of my life? Do I want to go through this again?’ Finally, I decided I’d rather raise my daughter and enjoy life for a while.”

Lucas contemplated not putting Lucasfilm up for sale and instead having somebody else run the production of the sequel trilogy, but that wouldn’t have given the director the family time he craved. Or as Lucas put it, “That isn’t retiring.”

“On ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’ I tried to stay out of the way, but I couldn’t,” Lucas said. “I was there every day. Even though the people were friends of mine and they did great work, it wasn’t the same as me doing it. It was like being once removed…I’m one of those micromanager guys, and I can’t help it. So I figured I would forgo that, enjoy what I had and I was looking forward to raising my daughter.”

“I’ve spent my life creating ‘Star Wars’ — 40 years — and giving it up was very, very painful. But it was the right thing to do,” Lucas added. “I thought I was going to have a little bit more to say about the next three because I’d already started them, but they decided they wanted to do something else. Things don’t always work out the way you want. Life is like that.”

Had Disney taken Lucas’ sequel trilogy plan into consideration, then Darth Maul would have returned as the franchise’s primary antagonist and Leia would have emerged as the trilogy’s “Chosen One” character. “The Star Wars Archives: Episodes I-III 1999-2005” is now available for purchase via Tachen.

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