In the past, George Lucas himself has admitted that he’s not exactly a wordsmith when it comes to movie dialogue. In 1999, just as the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy was getting underway with “The Phantom Menace,” Lucas spoke at length to Empire magazine about his utilitarian attitude toward dialogue, saying things like, “I’m aware that dialogue isn’t my strength,” and, “I’d be the first person to say I can’t write dialogue.”
If he’d be the first, then Harrison Ford would surely be the second. An oft-repeated story about Ford and Lucas and clunky “Star Wars” dialogue involves the Han Solo actor telling the “New Hope” writer-director: “George, you can type this s***, but you can’t say it.” In 2017, with “The Force Awakens” in his rearview mirror, Ford elaborated on the origin of that quote and how it started out as a joke on set. He told GQ:
“George usually sits near a monitor, far removed, so I had to convey my impression … or my feelings … about the dialogue across a great space. So I did shout it. ‘George! You can type this s***, but you sure can’t say it! Move your mouth when you’re typing!’ But it was a joke, at the time. A stress-relieving joke.”
The famously grumpy Ford also conceded that Lucas “doesn’t give a s*** what I think,” having sold his company, Lucasfilm, to Disney for $4 billion.
Kill Your Darlings (And Dai Nogas)
Looking back at early drafts of the opening crawl for the original “Star Wars” movie, for instance, it’s easy to see how Lucas’ instincts weren’t always the best when it comes to typing things that would roll off the tongue easily for his actors. At one point, he was going to call the Jedi and Sith the “Dai Nogas” and “Legions of Lettow.” Being surrounded by critical voices, like that of his fellow filmmaker Brian De Palma, enabled Lucas to curb some of his worst writing tendencies, and it also helped that he had “American Graffiti” co-screenwriters Bill Hyuck and Gloria Katz there to aid in an uncredited polish on the dialogue for “A New Hope.”
Years later, it would be Lucas who made the first call to Ford in an attempt to lure him back to the “Star Wars” franchise for “The Force Awakens.” Ford had once called for the death of Han Solo in “Return of the Jedi,” but he said that the beloved character’s demise was “not necessarily” a prerequisite for him to come back to “Star Wars.” He simply saw it as “an interesting development of the character.”
It did end up happening in “The Force Awakens,” of course, but Ford would reprise his role as Han Solo once more in a cameo in “The Rise of Skywalker.” By then, Lucas had long since divested himself of “Star Wars,” though J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio’s script for that
dumpster fire movie wasn’t necessarily any better than the gobbledygook Lucas had once typed out for Ford and company back in the 1970s.
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/Film – ‘Slash Film: Harrison Ford Wasn’t Always A Fan Of George Lucas’ Star Wars Writing’
Author: Joshua Meyer
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November 19, 2022