This December, the iconic Star Wars franchise will change forever with the release of The Rise of Skywalker, the final film in the decades-long Skywalker Saga. Over the course of the nine film saga, Star Wars has only had a total of five different directors helm its flagship films. George Lucas, who created the entire franchise, directed four of them himself, and J.J. Abrams will have directed two by the time all is said and done. While the total number of different directors is nearly half the amount of movies in the Saga, that wasn't the original intention. Lucas and producer Gary Kutz actually wanted a different director for each and every Star Wars film.
Lucasfilm creative art manager Phil Szostak recently tweeted out an excerpt from the book Once Upon a Galaxy, a journal from the making of Star Wars. The page that Szostak shared contains a quote from Kurtz, explaining the goal of having multiple different styles and visions taking part in the franchise.
"The problem you encounter when doing a follow-up to a very successful picture is that there are directors who shy away from the project for fear of being overshadowed by the reputation of the first film. George Lucas and I interviewed several directors, and one said: 'I don't feel like it would be good for my career now to do something that is in a sense a successor to someone else's work.' But neither George nor I saw Empire as that kind of project. In terms of a saga of interrelated stories we always wanted to have each picture directed by a different person, to add a slightly different style or focus to the overall development, so that when they were eventually seen in a group one could see how the individual filmic styles added to the development of the characters."
“[George Lucas and I] always wanted to have each [#StarWars] picture directed by a different person... so that when they were eventually seen in a group, one could see how the individual filmic styles added to the development of the characters.” - producer Gary Kurtz, March 1979 pic.twitter.com/T3BTBJ4kp2— Phil Szostak (@PhilSzostak) September 22, 2019
Things clearly went according to plan for the original trilogy, with all three films helmed by different directors. Lucas directed A New Hope, Irvin Kershner directed Empire Strikes Back, and Richard Marquand directed Return of the Jedi. When the prequel trilogy arrived however, the changing of hands suddenly stopped.
George Lucas wound up directing all three of the Star Wars prequels on his own, straying from the tradition of differing directors. The three prequels are easily the most panned of the entire Skywalker saga so it makes sense that Lucasfilm went back to the system of alternating directors with the current trilogy.
J.J. Abrams took over as director for The Force Awakens in 2015 and Lucasfilm had plans for all three movies in the new series to be helmed by different directors. Rian Johnson was hired for Episode VIII, which became The Last Jedi, and Jurassic World's Colin Trevorrow was supposed to take over for the final installment of the nine part saga, The Rise of Skywalker. However, Trevorrow left the project before the start of production and Abrams was brought back to the franchise to take his place.
Which Star Wars director has been your favorite so far? Are you looking forward to The Rise of Skywalker in December? Let us know in the comments!