#2 of 6 Pop Culture Visionaries Who Get Too Much Credit
Star Wars: George Lucas
Here's the general pop culture consensus on George Lucas: He sucks now, but he once wrote and directed the first Star Wars trilogy, which makes him another innovative, rebellious filmmaker whose creative fire has tragically guttered out.
But here's the truth: Lucas couldn't lose it because he never had it.
Making prequel Anakin an autobiographical character.
Who Actually Deserves the Credit:
First things first: Lucas absolutely was the brilliant mastermind behind the Star Wars movie ... prequels. I through III? That was all Lucas. But IV through VI? The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi were directed by Irv Kershner and Richard Marquand, respectively, and both screenplays were written by Lawrence Kasdan. But that still leaves Lucas as the writer/director of Episode IV, right? That's the big one: The Star Wars that put the "Star Wars" in Star Wars.
But A New Hope wasn't entirely Lucas, either: A fellow USC film grad, Gary Kurtz, who first collaborated with Lucas on his breakthrough film, American Graffiti, was producer for both Star Wars and Empire. Kurtz did more than an ordinary producer, however: Beyond running the day-to-day operations of the films, Kurtz also ended up coaching the actors (which is, technically speaking, the director's job).
Pictured: Gary Kurtz (left). Not pictured: George Lucas.
Even minor characters like C-3PO weren't the juice of Lucas' mindgrapes. Lucas originally wanted 3PO to be an "oily, car salesman type" rather than our lovably gay robot butler friend. If that character archetype sounds familiar, that's because Lucas would later get his sleazy salesman in The Phantom Menace, in the shape of the flying anti-Semitic stereotype, Watto. The actually likeable, not-racist version of C-3PO that we know today was largely thanks to Anthony Daniels. Daniels was originally hired as just a mime inside the gold suit, with someone else providing the voice-over. But actor Stan Freberg convinced Lucas to not use a different voice and stick with Daniels -- which is particularly remarkable since Freberg was one of the actors considered to replace Daniels' voice. That's right: A struggling actor actually had to step up and sacrifice his own livelihood just to kill one of Lucas' terrible ideas.
If all these men had committed ritual suicide, we might have been able to avoid Jar Jar.
The man is like the original sin of filmmakers.