George Lucas Doesn’t Know Anything About the New ‘Star Wars,’ And That’s ‘Thrilling’

George Lucas hasn’t seen the new trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” — he’s waiting until he can see the it on a bigscreen.

That’s one of the takeaways from the April 17 Tribeca Talk at the Tribeca Film Festival, which paired Lucas with fanboy extraordinaire Stephen Colbert. Among the tidbits: Lucas made “American Graffiti” on a dare, Steven Spielberg was one of the only early believers in “Star Wars” and — in a table-turning moment that saw Lucas doing the interviewing — Colbert doesn’t want to be the guy to take over from Jon Stewart.

Because Lucas is a bigscreen guy, he said he’s holding off on watching the new trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” until he can watch on it on something other than a phone or a computer. He mentioned the possibility of streaming it to his own bigscreen.

“I hope it’s successful. I hope they do a great job,” Lucas said when asked about his hopes — his “a new hope,” joked Colbert — for the new “Star Wars” films. He said the only thing he regretted about making “Star Wars” was never getting to see the films for himself with fresh eyes. “I don’t know anything about it,” he said of the new movie. “This time it’ll be very thrilling.”

In the hourlong talk in front of a packed auditorium in downtown Manhattan, Colbert and Lucas, both bearded, spent as much time discussing Lucas’ overall career and his fierce independent streak as they did talking about “Star Wars.” On that subject, the nuggets dropped by Lucas included the fact that when the filmmaker showed a rough cut of his ideas for the film to his closest filmmaking friends — including Spielberg, Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese — Spielberg “jumped up and said, ‘This is gonna be the biggest movie of all time!'” But no one else agreed.

“Brian said, ‘George, what the hell is the Force?'” Lucas remembered.

He also mentioned that he made “American Graffiti” — the huge comedy hit — because Francis Ford Coppola dared him. To hear Lucas tell it, Coppola said to him, “Look, do me a favor. No more of these experimental science-fiction movies. I dare you to write a comedy.” So he did.

Throughout the conversation, Lucas made it clear that he remains the independent-minded artist who started out making experimental films. He still rails against studio types who think they deserve credit for writing a check: “They refer to it as their movie, but they didn’t have anything to do with it. The guy who sweats blood and tears to write and direct the movie is the guy who really made the movie,” he said, drawing a round of applause from the crowd.

He thinks of “Star Wars” as a silent movie — “It really lies in the art of movement” — but that sound is just as important as the image onscreen. “I believe half a movie is the sound,” he said. “The sound is extremely important. But the dialogue is not.”

That comment led Lucas to acknowledge, “I’m notorious for wooden dialogue.”

“It’s not wooden,” Colbert interjected. “It’s hand-carved.”

Toward the end of the talk, Lucas took the reins to ask Colbert why the heck he wasn’t the guy to take over for Stewart on “The Daily Show.”

“Um,” Colbert deadpanned. Then he went on, “I don’t want to be the guy to take over for Jon Stewart. I worked for Jon Stewart at that show. My memories will always be of him being the keenest, most intelligent, most beautifully deconstructive mind, the clearest thinker I’ve ever worked with or for. I would never get underneath his shadow.”

As for what Lucas is currently up to, he mentioned the word “retired” — although, spurred by a question from the audience, he did mention he’s going back to making experimental films. “These movies, they’ll probably never get released,” he joked. “I’m just tinkering around in my garage.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Beyonce Knowles'The Lion King' film premiere,

    ABC Announces Behind-the-Scenes Special for Beyoncé's 'Lion King' LP

    ABC has announced a new behind-the-scenes look into the making of Beyoncé’s “The Lion King: The Gift” LP, which is set to air September 16 on ABC at 10 p.m. EST. Titled “Beyoncé Presents: Making the Gift,” the new hour-long special will allow viewers to “experience the process” behind the “Lion King” companion album, according [...]

  • Jason Lei Howden, Samara Weaving and

    Daniel Radcliffe On Acting With Weapons Nailed To Your Hands

    How did “Guns Akimbo” director and writer Jason Lei Howden convince Daniel Radcliffe to play a character with guns nailed to his hands? Easy, he sent him the script. Radcliffe joined Howden and “Ready or Not’s” breakout star Samara Weaving in the Variety’s Toronto Film Festival studio, presented by AT&T to talk the limits of [...]

  • Box Office: It Chapter Two Maintains

    Box Office: 'It: Chapter Two' Continues International Reign With $47 Million

    Pennywise’s reign of terror hasn’t wavered: Warner Bros.’ “It Chapter Two” maintained first place on box office charts, led by another strong showing overseas. The sequel, based on Stephen King’s horror novel, generated another $47 million at the international box office for a foreign tally of $169 million. After two weeks of release, “It Chapter [...]

  • First still from the set of

    Taika Waititi’s 'Jojo Rabbit' Wins Top Prize at Toronto Film Festival Awards

    Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” has won the coveted People’s Choice Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The honor positions the film for a potential Oscar run and bolsters its awards chances. That’s good news for Fox Searchlight, which must have been disappointed by the lackluster critical reception for the movie, a dark comedy [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Box Office: 'Hustlers' Racks Up Solid $33 Million Debut, 'Goldfinch' Bombs

    “Hustlers” rolled in the Benjamins this weekend, collecting $33.2 million when it debuted in 3,250 North American theaters. Boosted by rave reviews and stellar word of mouth, “Hustlers” beat expectations and now ranks as the best start for an STX film, along with the biggest live-action opening weekend for stars Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu. [...]

  • German Cinema Is Diverse, But Is

    German Cinema Is Varied, But Is It Too Risk Averse?

    One of the strengths of German cinema is its diversity, says Simone Baumann, managing director of the national film promotion agency German Films. As well as the three films at Toronto directed by female German helmers, there was also German filmmaker Thomas Heise’s documentary film essay “Heimat Is a Space in Time.” Then there were [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content