Step One: This Nightmare
August 5, 1993–A decade had passed since Return of the Jedi, the final film in George Lucas’ influential and wildly successful Star Wars trilogy, and for most of that period, Lucas had locked himself in the basement of his luxurious compound in California, Skywalker Ranch.
The times the eccentric filmmaker had emerged, it was only to add his increasingly shaky influence to various ridiculous projects, such as Howard the Duck and the Indiana Jones movie where the guy has his heart ripped out and somehow lives, and there are kids everywhere. Friends and acquaintances could see that the reclusive Lucas was having trouble adapting to his life outside the science fiction world he had created. But they had no idea how far he had descended into madness.
“He would show up on sets covered in blood and feces,” Director Steven Spielberg recalls, “He claimed he had been forced to sleep in the belly of a Taun-Taun, or else succumb to the brutal elements of Hoth. Only later did we learn that he was sleeping inside eviscerated cattle on his ranch.”
Spielberg says Lucas would often carry an electrician’s flashlight on his belt, which he referred to as his lightsaber, and engage in acrobatic battle against invisible foes.
“The crew would watch in stunned silence as he acted out these fantasies,” Spielberg says, “When he finished, he would hold up his arms, looking at everyone and shout, ‘Are you not entertained!?’ Then he would simply walk over to craft services and start filling up a plate. It was fucking awkward. And sad.”
Spielberg says he eventually convinced Lucas to meet with a therapist, who urged him to revisit the universe he had created with that original trilogy as a way to gain a measure of closure.
“The therapist thought George saw that universe as an extension of reality,” Spielberg says, “She urged him to keep a journal. Write out an ending, maybe just kill everyone off. But George had bigger plans.”
Spielberg says it soon became apparent that for Lucas to break free from the Star Wars universe that had taken over his life, he would have to destroy it for all of the die hard fans as well. He decided to write another trilogy, this time one that was so awful that fans would never mention Star Wars again.
“I’ll never forget that day,” Spielberg recalls, “August 5th. It had to be over 100 degrees out, and George had the A/C turned off. He stripped naked and leaned over his typewriter, cackling this gibberish, that I would later recognize as the voice of Jar Jar Binks. He said he was going to make Star Wars look like one of those old racist Disney cartoons, like the crows in Dumbo or something. And he did! I can’t believe people actually went to see those pieces of crap. But George got it out of his system, and he got better. It’s so ironic to me that he actually sold the whole deal to Disney. It’s all come full circle, I guess.”