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David Cronenberg Criticizes Franchise Directing While Revealing That He Turned Down ‘Return Of The Jedi’

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These days, franchise directors are held under the microscope, for better or worse. Rian Johnson could certainly relate infinite stories about raging Star Wars fans coming at him over The Last Jedi, but back in simpler days, Twitter didn’t exist to rip these helmers to pieces. Can you imagine, for example, Return of the Jedi director Richard Marquand being trounced in an extended hate-fest over The Ewoks? That didn’t happen (at least, not in real-time), but that film could have also ended up in very different hands.

Legendary director David Cronenberg, who remains renowned for unforgettable entries into the body-horror subgenre including The Fly and Crash, apparently had a shot at directing the Episode VI. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Cronenberg reveals how the conversation with LucasFilm got awkward when he turned down the gig:

“I still recall getting a phone call. At that point it was called ‘Revenge of the Jedi’ … I was asked if I would be interested in considering that, and meeting with everybody, and I said, with the arrogance of youth — relative youth, anyway — I said, ‘Well, I’m not used to doing other people’s material.’ And there was like a stunned silence and then ‘Click’ — hang up. Basically, that was as close as I came to that.”

Cronenberg added that he views the act of franchise directing as akin to being “a traffic cop,” as opposed to “what a creative director can be.” To that end, he wasn’t interested in becoming a hired gun, which is how he views Alfonso Cuarón’s helming of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. “[H]e did his best to try to make it stand out from the others,” assessed Cronenberg. “[B]ut basically, it’s a Harry Potter episode.” Cronenberg believes that such a process would be “just frustrating,” which is why he wasn’t interested in Star Wars.

Well, this bit of flashback news is interesting, if nothing else, for the realization that Cronenberg could have introduced the terrifying sarlaac to audiences. Episode VI arrived in 1983, several years after Cronenberg had already helmed the brutally visceral Shivers, Rabid, and The Brood. LucasFilm knew exactly who they were talking to and were perhaps interested in him partially because of the sarlaac. The creature on Tatooine was already scary enough due to its 1000-year digestion of victims, along with seemingly endless rows of teeth. Could you picture the Cronenberg vision of such a beast? Nightmares for years.

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(Via Entertainment Weekly)

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