Francis Ford Coppola Feels Sad ‘Star Wars’ Dominated George Lucas’ Directing Career

Francis Ford Coppola served as a mentor for George Lucas in the heyday of New Hollywood, producing Lucas’ 1973 breakthrough feature “American Graffiti.” Lucas’ next project would be “Star Wars,” which launched a franchise so massive the writer-director would never helm a non-“Star Wars” movie again. Lucas has directed four films since 1977 (the original “Star Wars” and the three prequel films, released between 1999 and 2005), which Coppola tells Variety in a wide-ranging interview is somewhat sad news.

“Well, he created something that brought joy and happiness and pleasure — and even some wisdom — to so many people. Whatever benefits he got from it, he deserved and is welcome to,” Coppola said. “If I feel sadness, it is that he didn’t make the other movies he was going to make. George is truly a brilliant, talented person. Just look at ‘American Graffiti’ and see all the innovation. We should’ve had more.”

Coppola said Lucas is well aware that Lucas’ decision to only direct “Star Wars” films bums him out, adding, “I’m at the point where I can’t bring it up anymore. I do sort of think of him as a kid brother. We older people have to celebrate the success [of younger people]. I recognize that my daughter, Sofia, is, in a way, more successful than I am, and people are more interested in what she’s going to do next than [what I’m going to do next]. That’s how it should be.”

While Lucas stuck only to directing “Star Wars” movies, his filmography branched out of the space saga thanks to his executive producing career. In addition to executive producing “Star Wars” entries “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” Lucas also EP’d Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones” movies (and got story credit), “Howard the Duck,” “Willow,” “The Land Before Time,” and “Radioland Murders,” among other credits.

Had Lucas gotten his way, he would have directed even more “Star Wars” movies. The filmmaker intended to direct the “Star Wars” sequel trilogy before making the decision he wanted to prioritize family over the continuation of the franchise. Lucas sold his company Lucasfilm to Disney in $4 billion deal, giving up control of the “Star Wars” franchise in the process. Lucas said the sale was “painful” but the right call, although he expected Disney would’ve given him more say as it developed its own “Star Wars” sequel trilogy.

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