How Steven Spielberg got his 'Star Wars' references in 'Ready Player One' after all

Even Hollywood royalty like Steven Spielberg can misspeak on the PR circuit. Or was he just misunderstood?

On Thursday, the Oscar-winning director was participating in a press conference for his new nostalgia-soaked, Easter egg-filled sci-fi actioner Ready Player One when he reportedly declared, “We couldn’t get any Star Wars rights. … We [tried] very hard. They wouldn’t give up the rights.” Spielberg’s comments were then covered far and wide, including on Yahoo Entertainment.

By Friday, however, Spielberg was clearing up the narrative, telling us at the film’s Los Angeles press day that there are in fact Star Wars references in the screen adaptation of Ernest Cline’s bestselling book, and teasing a couple of them in the process.

“We requested [intellectual property] from almost all of the [movie] studios, and also game companies and toy companies, and everybody jumped on board, including Disney,” Spielberg said (watch above). Disney acquired Lucasfilm, originator of and gatekeeper to the Star Wars universe, in 2012.

The director was intent on only licensing characters and other IP from the original trilogy, however, which makes sense given the vast majority of Ready Player One’s countless Easter eggs originate from the ’80s and ’90s and include screen icons like King Kong, Jurassic Park’s T. rex, the Iron Giant, Freddy, Jason, and Chucky.

“I didn’t think it would be good to do the contemporary characters in all of the [new] Star Wars films, because our film takes place in 2045 but everybody has returned nostalgically to the 1980s,” he said. “Disney was very generous in letting us basically cherry-pick the little items we needed.”

While it’s virtually impossible to pick out every pop culture reference in a single viewing of Ready Player One, Spielberg teased what Star Wars fans can look out for, including sightings of R2-D2 and an X-wing starfighter.

“[They are] in the periphery of the painting,” he said.

Ready Player One opens March 29.

Watch the trailer:

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