While Star Wars: The Force Awakens has for the most part received praise from critics and audiences, some reviewers have lamented just how similar director J.J. Abrams’ sequel is to the original 1977 adventure. Count the franchise’s creator, George Lucas, among the dissenters.
The 71-year-old filmmaker sat down for a long interview with Charlie Rose last weekend, ahead of his medal ceremony at the Kennedy Center Honors. While he mostly put on a clinic in stoicism during the conversation, Lucas did hint at some level of disappointment with the direction in which Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy took the franchise with The Force Awakens. (Watch the video above.)
“They wanted to do a retro movie; I don’t like that,” Lucas said, referring Disney’s concept for the sequel. “Every movie, I work very hard to make them different. I make them completely different, with different planets and different spaceships, to make it new.”
The filmmaker sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012; he consciously decided not to participate in the new Star Wars, he said, and did not think Disney was keen to have him involved anyway. While he attended the premiere of The Force Awakens and smiled for the cameras, he gave a more opaque version of his critique of the film in a red carpet interview published last week.
“I think the fans are going to love it,” he told New York Magazine. “It’s very much the kind of movie they’ve been looking for.”
Given how much many Star Wars fans disliked the prequels films that Lucas directed, it was not hard to read even that comment as a mild dig at Hollywood’s new appetite for nostalgia.
Lucas made $4 billion when he sold his company to Disney, a sum that would have most people celebrating like Ewoks on Endor. But the filmmaker said that he had to work hard to get over the sale, likening it to a divorce.
“It really does come down to a simple rule of life, which is, when you break up with somebody, the first rule is no phone calls,” he said. “The second rule is you don’t go over to their house and drive by to see what they’re doing. The third rule is you don’t show up at their coffee shop. You say 'No, gone, it’s history, I’m moving forward.’ … You have to put it behind you, and it’s a very hard thing to do.”