A Look Back At Steven Spielberg’s Long History With Star Wars

By | Exclusives, Featured

With the departure of Colin Trevorrow from Episode 9, the rumors about who will replace him have dominated the internet. Names like J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson are mentioned often, and they seem to be the most realistic choices to step in and finish the third Star Wars trilogy. 

Steven Spielberg is another name that a lot of Youtube channels and blogs are mentioning as a possible replacement for Trevorrow. I personally don’t think it will happen for a variety of reasons, mostly because of his busy schedule. Linking Spielberg to Star Wars isn’t anything new though. It’s something that dates back to before the first space adventure from A Galaxy Far, Far Away ever hit screens. 

Spielberg was one of the first people to see Star Wars (1977)

George Lucas showed an early cut of Star Wars to his filmmaking friends when it was still being tweaked. Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, Francis Ford Coppola, and Spielberg saw in early screening and Spielberg was the only one of the legendary directors that saw its potential. 

Spielberg talks about his reaction to Star Wars, and also the strong reaction of De Palma, in the video below: 

John Williams & George Lucas Joined Forces For Star Wars because of Spielberg’s Suggestion

John Williams had this to say to interviewer, Craig L. Byrd, in regards to how he got involved with Star Wars: 

“My involvement with Star Wars began actually with Steven Spielberg, who was, in the ’70s when these films were made, and still is, a very close friend of George Lucas’s. I had done two or three scores for Steven Spielberg before I met George Lucas, Jaws being the principal one among them. I think it was that George Lucas, when he was making Star Wars, asked his friend Steven Spielberg who should write the music, where will he find a composer? The best knowledge I have is that Steven recommended me to George Lucas as a composer for the film, and I met him under those circumstances, and that’s how it all began.”

Lucas Wanted Spielberg To Direct Return of the Jedi, But DGA Rules Prevented It 

There has been a long standing rumor that Steven Spielberg was asked by Lucas to direct Return of the Jedi, but because Lucas worked outside of the Director’s Guild, it could not happen. 

From Movie Pilot: 

“There was only one thing standing in the way of Spielberg directing Jedi – the union. Steven Spielberg was a member of Directors Guild of America (DGA). The DGA is usually a force for good within the film industry, but during this particular time, it caused one serious issue.

The DGA was upset with Lucasfilm for the pettiest of reasons: they did not include opening credits at the beginning of the Star Wars movies. Today, this doesn’t seem like a big deal, as only around half of the films released include opening credits. When Return of the Jedi was entering production, however, not including opening credits was a serious issue, and the unions felt like this was disrespectful to the creative forces behind the film.

Because of this, the DGA would not let their members direct the third Star Wars – this unfortunately included Steven Spielberg. Instead, Return of the Jedi was directed by Richard Marquand, who was also a well-established director, but not linked to the DGA.”

It’s hard to say if this rumor is true or not – it has been around for a long time now. It does make a lot of sense. Right before production on Jedi would have begun, Spielberg and Lucas just wrapped up collaborating on Raiders of the Lost Ark. It isn’t far fetched at all to think this could have been, at the very least, discussed between the two Hollywood icons. 

E.T. & Star Wars Have Crossed Paths In Film

E.T. the Extra Terrestrial was the story of a young boy growing up in the 1980s that meets a friend from another planet. Like any kid from the 80s, Elliot was a Star Wars fan. There is a classic scene in E.T. when Elliot shows his new friend his Star Wars toys. 

There is also the famous scene where E.T. comes face to face with Master Yoda. 

E.T.’s Alien Race Also Pops Up In Phantom Menace for a quick cameo. 

‘Club Obi Wan’ In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

When Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom starts Indy finds himself in a lot of trouble inside a Shanghai night club. The name of the club, ‘Club Obi Wan,’ is an obvious inside joke between Lucas and Spielberg. 

Spielberg May Have Helped Direct A Scene In Revenge Of The Sith

The Making of the Revenge of the Sith author, J.W. Rinzler, told starwars.com that Lucas shared with him the contributions Steven Spielberg made to Revenge of the Sith

Rinzler said this to starwars.com: 

“As George explains in the book, he gave Spielberg a few scenes to play with at the animatics stage: a bit of the Mustafar duel, and Yoda’s duel with the Emperor, along with a couple of others. How much of Spielberg’s contribution made it to the final film, only Lucas or Spielberg could say, particularly as George revised and reinvented every scene in the film so extensively in editorial.”

Abrams Was Brought Onto Force Awakens Partly Due To Spielberg

Speileberg’s involvement with Star Wars didn’t end when Lucas sold the franchise to Disney. When Kathleen Kennedy became the head of Lucasfilm, her long relationship with Steven Spielberg as his Producer, came in handy.

Spielberg In An Interview With The Hollywood Reporter: 

“I brought J.J.’s name up. I thought J.J. would be the best person to direct Episode 7 and I called J.J. and said ‘Would you do it if it was offered to you?’ He said, ‘I would but my wife won’t let me ’cause she doesn’t want me to restart any more franchises.’ But I went to Kathy and asked if I could get J.J. to say yes to this would you consider it? Kathy said ‘Are you kidding? Of course I would. But why would J.J. do Star Wars; he’s already done Mission Impossible and Star Trek.’ So I take Katie Abrams and J.J. to dinner that night to Giorgio with my wife, Kate, and right in front of Katie Abrams I popped the question. I said to Katie, ‘I think there’s a chance that J.J. could direct Star Wars. What do you think of that?’ And Katie turned to J.J. and said, ‘That would be amazing. Really?’ And I went outside the restaurant, picked up my phone, called Kathy and said, ‘When can we meet with J.J.?’ And that’s how the whole thing began.”

Despite his long history with Star Wars, it is highly unlikely Steven Spielberg will direct Episode 9. It just doesn’t seem like the project he would want to take on at this point in his career. 

In a 2016 interview with the Toronto Sun, Spielberg made it pretty clear he had no desire to direct a Star Wars film: 

“I’m never going to make a Star Wars film. That’s not my genre. It’s certainly my buddy’s — the Thomas Edison of science fiction, George Lucas, who created the entire series. But that was never for me. I’m just a fan; I’m just with everybody else in the audience watching them.”