George Lucas Offered Ron Howard ‘Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace’

ron howard star wars the phantom menace
Getty/20th Century Fox

It is incredibly easy to make fun of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, but what if someone other than George Lucas had directed the films? Filmmaker Ron Howard’s interview on the Happy Sad Confused podcast begs the question, as the Academy Award-winner revealed just how close he and several other directors came to making The Phantom Menace.

How close did Howard come to becoming the party responsible for Jar Jar Binks, Obi-Wan Kenobi’s faulty memory and a host of other bad eggs? Welp, he was the third person Lucas asked — just behind Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg.

“He didn’t necessarily want to direct them. He told me he had talked to Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg, and me. I was the third one he spoke to. They all said the same thing: ‘George, you should do it!’ I don’t think anybody wanted to follow-up that act at the time. It was an honor, but it would’ve been too daunting.”

Lucas asking Howard wasn’t a random occurrence. The two had previously worked together on Willow in 1988, so Lucas was quite familiar with Howard’s abilities as a film director. The latter even went so far as to attribute some of his inspiration for In the Heart of the Sea to the former.

Whether frequent Howard collaborator Russell Crowe would have played Jar Jar, Darth Maul or Qui-Gon Jinn remains top be seen. Still, the director’s discussion of possible projects and passed opportunities led to a short discussion of superhero movies. His name isn’t attached to any past, present and future, and there’s a distinct reason for that.

“I’ve had opportunities over the years [to make superhero movies]. I really feel like you shouldn’t make a movie as a kind of exercise. You have to be all the way in. I was never a comic book guy. I like the movies when I see them, especially the origin stories. I never felt like I could be on the set, at 3 o’clock in the morning, tired, with 10 important decisions to make, and know, intuitively, what the story needs. For me, I’d be copycatting and not inventing. I’ve never said yes to one.”

For more, make sure to check out the Happy Sad Confused‘s 52-minute chat with Howard.

(Via Slash Film)