How George Lucas Impacted Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker writer-director J.J. Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio engaged in a “philosophical discussion” with franchise creator George Lucas surrounding “the nature of the Jedi and the nature of the Force” when developing the conclusion to the nine-episode Skywalker Saga. Lucas, who sold Lucasfilm and Star Wars to Disney for $4.05 billion in 2012, has been largely hands-off since the sale: Lucas was involved with one scene in young Han Solo prequel Solo: A Star Wars Story and shared advice with The Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau on the first live-action series set in a galaxy far, far away. On Rise of Skywalker, Terrio accompanied Abrams when the director consulted with Lucas:

“I did. And it’s not as though we we had a conference on specific story points. It’s more about really listening to George,” Terrio told Rolling Stone. “It was almost a philosophical discussion about the nature of the Jedi and the nature of the Force, and about what his intentions were when he was originally writing the first episode. It was like sitting down with a with some grand master and just listening to his wisdom.”

He continued, “I don’t even know if George knows to what extent we wrote down and conferred about and really tried to understand the spirit of what he said. As far as the specific story goes, who knows if George would agree with it, but I hope that philosophically he’ll feel we understood the spirit of what he was doing.”

Included in Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm were Lucas’ original outlines for a sequel trilogy. In his book The Ride of a Lifetime, The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger wrote the purchase agreement made it clear Disney “would not be contractually obligated to adhere to the plot lines he’d laid out,” which “wasn’t an easy thing for [Lucas] to accept.” Lucas then “reluctantly agreed” to consult with Lucasfilm, under the charge of president Kathleen Kennedy, at Disney’s request.

Iger admitted Lucas felt upset and betrayed when he realized the sequel trilogy wouldn't follow his plots. Though Disney wasn’t contractually bound to utilize Lucas’ ideas, the filmmaker “thought that our buying the story treatments was a tacit promise that we’d follow him, and he was disappointed that his story was being discarded,” Iger wrote.

Asked if Terrio and Abrams read Lucas’ unused treatments, Terrio replied after a long pause: “That one I can’t answer.”

“I do try to read everything that I can get my hands on. There are internet sites that have various drafts of the various scripts from the original trilogy. I devoured [one of those sites],” he continued. “It probably would be embarrassing to look at the number of times that an address in Santa Monica, California, looked at that site. I wanted to gain that insight into the way that George was thinking, or the way that Leigh Brackett was thinking in her first draft of Empire Strikes Back. Those were super instructive for me.”

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens December 20.

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