A photo from the set of The Mandalorian is generating speculation Star Wars creator George Lucas could step behind the camera on the sophomore season of the Disney+ series, which entered into production mid-October. The photo, published by series creator Jon Favreau on Instagam, shows Lucas cradling a Baby Yoda puppet, igniting thousands of "likes" and comments — some hypothesizing Lucas could be on set to direct his first credited project since 2005's Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. Lucas was present during the making of the premiere season of The Mandalorian, the first live-action Star Wars series and the spiritual successor to Star Wars: Underworld, Lucas' never-made live-action series shelved for a decade.
In a 2015 sitdown with Charlie Rose, three years after Disney acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion, Lucas said he "gave up directing in order to become a dad," pointing to the 22-year gap between 1977's original Star Wars and 1999's Episode I - The Phantom Menace, the first of his Star Wars prequel trilogy. While running Lucasfilm, the visionary filmmaker admitted, he was "not doing what I really like to do, which is actually make movies."
Lucas intended to develop personal projects following the Star Wars sale, telling Rose, "One of the reasons I retired is so I could make movies that aren't popular."
Steering away from commercialism and returning to the freedom he had on directorial debut THX 1138, Lucas said he would "make movies that I know are experimental, that I have no way of knowing whether they'll work or not, but I want to see if they work." This experimental fare would never be made available for public viewing.
"I'm doing what I wanted to do back when I started," Lucas said. "But I'm gonna learn things, and the things I learn, possibly I'll pass on to other friends of mine and other people who are directors, to say, 'I didn't know you could do that.' Because that's what directors do, they learn from what all their peers are doing. You sort of see how they manipulate film, the visual image, moving image, and doing things that have never been done before. That's what I want to do. Because in the movie business, you cannot take a risk, you cannot do something that doesn't work."
Lucas intimated he lost interest in a galaxy far, far away, telling Rose, "My interests have shifted to more mature things. I did the kids' thing [with Star Wars], I did it. To me it's six films, and it ends where it ends."
His future projects would be "much more demanding of an audience," Lucas said, predicting "most of the audience won't have anything to do with it, and it's on subject matter that most people don't want to see movies about. But I do. And I've made movies, for me, that I wanted to see. But I knew what they were."
Asked if he was finished with "great Star Wars-kind of adventures," Lucas answered, "Yeah. These are little tiny movies that are experimental. I'm going back to where American Grafitti was, or THX, where I completely changed the way you tell a story in using cinema."
Despite stepping away from Star Wars, Lucas had a small influence on young Han Solo prequel Solo: A Star Wars Story and had a presence on the first season set of The Mandalorian, where he visited Favreau and director-writer-producer Dave Filoni.
Lucas also offered advice to Favreau when the filmmaker developed the series that convinced Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, that Favreau is comparable to Lucas, both in the sense of his storytelling prowess and his ability to push technology forward.
"We have great faith in Jon. Both as a storyteller, but also as a storyteller like George that knows how to use technology for the good of his stories, and the good of the audience that will ultimately hear or see the stories," Iger said on The Star Wars Show. "We had seen that in Jungle Book, which he remade for us, which I thought was brilliant in so many different ways. We certainly saw that in Lion King, which was breakthrough in many ways."
Iger continued, "And so when Jon pitched the idea of a Star Wars series, we immediately understood not only did we have a great storyteller, but we had a storyteller that was going to continue to write new rules of sorts or mine new territory in terms of how he was going to use technology to tell great stories that felt fresh, that felt important, that felt big, that took people to new places and created new experiences, and so it was a very easy decision for us to make."
Favreau also employed groundbreaking technology to realize The Mandalorian, a natural advancement of many of the technological wonders both Lucas and his company accomplished on the original Star Wars trilogy and Lucas' prequels.1comments
It remains to be seen if these revolutionary filmmaking techniques, or Favreau's involvement, might be enough to sway Lucas back to the galaxy he created, even if only for a 40-minute episode. If there is a path for Lucas back to Star Wars — this is the way.