Why didn’t George Lucas direct and screenwrite The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi? This seems to be in conflict with how protective George Lucas is about his “baby”. Is there a reason why he gave up a lot of his Sith artistic powers for those movies?

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    Yes, because at that point he wasn't a billionaire who owned his own studio. He had to answer to his producers who insisted on other people being involved.
    – Valorum
    Sep 10, 2015 at 17:48
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    Let's just be thankful he didn't.
    – Praxis
    Sep 10, 2015 at 17:54
  • @Praxis he didn't do a bad job in the original.
    – user46509
    Sep 10, 2015 at 18:13
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    @Carlsixsmith: That's true. But one of the strengths of V and VI is that they are darker in tone. It's unclear what effect Lucas' direction would have had on that.
    – Praxis
    Sep 10, 2015 at 18:24
  • @CarlSixsmith Oh dear gods, yes he did do a bad job! I was so delighted when MST3K in the form of RiffTrax finally did Star Wars... Let's just say his direction does not bear universal acclaim.
    – Lexible
    Sep 10, 2015 at 19:38

1 Answer 1


Lucas revealed in several interviews at the time that he was fed up with directing.

In 1977, on the set of Star Wars, he told American Film:

"I come from the filmmaker's school of doing movies, which means I do everything myself...If I left anything for a day, it would fall apart...Whenever there is a leak in the dam, I have to stick my finger in it. I should learn to say, 'Somebody else go plug it up.'"

George Lucas: Interviews Edited by Sally Fine

In 1983, he said:

"I dislike directing. I hate the constant dealing with volatile personalities. Directing is emotional frustration, anger, and tremendously hard work - seven days a week, twelve to sixteen hours a day. For years my wife would ask why we couldn't go out to dinner like other people. But I couldn't turn it off. Eventually, I realized that directing simply wasn't healthy for me."

George Lucas: Interviews Edited by Sally Fine

Apparently he got nostalgic for it, though, after a long absence; in a 1990 intervew he said that he wanted to get back into directing:

"It's not that I prefer producing, that's just where I find myself these days. It wasn't something I did by choice. I was just more effective in the producing area, which is where the opportunities have presented themselves in the last few years...Ultimately, I'm a director. I've done many things, but that's where my heart is...I just want to get back to what I started doing.

George Lucas: Interviews Edited by Sally Fine

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    Fun fact, in an interview printed in this book, Lucas admits how bad of a writer he is: "I'm not a good writer, it's very, very hard for me. I don't feel I have a natural talent for it" Sep 10, 2015 at 18:11
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    Working off my memory of the DVD boxed set from roughly 2003, he was having chest pains during direction of the first film, and visited his doctor. His doctor said it was stress, and he was risking almost certain cardiac attacks if he didn't reduce his stress. He did so somewhat for the remained of that film, and as I remember, had someone else direct the subsequent films as a result.
    – Dan
    Sep 11, 2015 at 0:23

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