When it came to the future of the Star Wars franchise, uncertainty highlighted a great deal of the past decade until Lucasfilm became Disney property, and the long-rumored Episode VII went into pre-production. But now, it seems as though The Force Awakens was already being penned by George Lucas himself before the sale happened.
In a recent interview that took place while promoting his new film, [Strange Magic](movie:2481985), the filmmaker had a few different things to say about [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](movie:711158):
Lucas already started to develop the next three Star Wars films, but he knew a third trilogy was a 10-year commitment at least. He at first expected to finish Episode VII, release it in May 2015 and then sell the company afterward.
But Disney expressed interest and came along at the right moment, Lucas says. “It’s better for me to get out at the beginning of a new thing and I can just remove myself... The time is more important to me than the money.”
The news of Lucas' prep work on the seventh installment isn't especially new: during an interview last year, Lucas' son Jett revealed exactly what hit our headlines this week.
We knew probably a year prior (to the purchase) he had started writing and researching, starting his whole little process... About a year later was when the idea of selling to Disney came up.
Lucas' history of back-and-forth on the sequel films wasn't especially new, as this interview from 2008 seems to demonstrate:
TotalFilm: Are you happy for new Star Wars tales to be told after your gone?
Lucas: I've left pretty explicit instructions for there not to be any more features. There will definitely be no Episodes VII - IX. That's because there isn't any story. I mean, I never thought of anything! And now there are novels about the events after Episode IV, which isn't at all what I would have done with it.
The Star Wars story is really the tragedy of Darth Vader. That is the story. Once Vader dies, he doesn't come back to life, The Emperor doesn't get cloned and Luke doesn't get married...
Seems like, even back then, Lucas himself was ditching out the much-beloved Expanded Universe as non-canon, or at least part of a canon that he didn't approve of. But then, of course, there are several articles that say Lucas had a treatment for the film as far back as the eighties.
But what would the films have been about? According to Lucas' biographer, Dave Pollock, the sequel trilogy would have picked up ten years later - with a very different Luke Skywalker.
The next in the series, he said, involve Luke Skywalker in his 30s and 40s, but Lucas was unlikely to turn to Mark Hamill, who played Luke in the original but whose performance left the director dissatisfied.
“They will need an older Luke Skywalker,” Pollock said.
Pollock is no longer friends with George Lucas, though, and Mark Hamill (whose performance is iconic to this day, thank you very much) has returned as a bearded Luke Skywalker in his sixties.
Regardless of the magnificently fraying loose threads that fueled years of wild speculation, Lucas has happily taken the back seat to focus on new projects. He had this to say about the magic of Star Wars and why he's looking forward to Episode VII:
The only thing I really regret about Star Wars is the fact I never got to see it — I never got to be blown out of my seat when the ship came over the screen. The next one, I'll be able to enjoy it like anybody else.
The moral of this story, by the way, is to never believe what you hear or see (even if it's straight from the horse's mouth) until contracts are signed and production has begun.