George Lucas Talks Retirement, Racism, And Nuking The Fridge

Bryan Curtis of The New York Times has a long interview with George Lucas where he discusses Star Wars fan rage, the difficulty of getting studios to take Red Tails seriously, his retirement of sorts, his girlfriend, and the “nuking the fridge” scene in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Among the highlights from the interview, 67-year-old Lucas says he’s retiring, following up the statement with several caveats:

“I’m retiring,” Lucas said. “I’m moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff.” He was careful to leave himself an out clause for a fifth “Indiana Jones” film. But otherwise, “Red Tails” will be the last blockbuster Lucas makes. […] Lucas has decided to devote the rest of his life to what cineastes in the 1970s used to call personal films. They’ll be small in scope, esoteric in subject and screened mostly in art houses. They’ll be like the experimental movies Lucas made in the 1960s, around the time he was at U.S.C. film school, when he recorded clouds moving over the desert and made a movie based on an E. E. Cummings poem. During that period, Lucas assumed he would spend his career on the fringes. Then “Star Wars” happened — and though Lucas often mused about it, he never committed himself to the uncommercial world until now. [NYT]

So he’s retiring, except for the smaller films he wants to make and maybe a fifth Indiana Jones film and maybe a prequel and sequel to Red Tails and the 3D versions of the six Star Wars films which return to theaters next month. Well, as long as he stops futzing with Star Wars scenes that sounds all right. Oops, I’m being a hater. Lucas had something to say about the Star Wars fan rage as well:

Okay, here’s the real quote:

Lucas seized control of his movies from the studios only to discover that the fanboys could still give him script notes. “Why would I make any more,” Lucas says of the “Star Wars” movies, “when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?”

There is some irony to non-filmmakers telling the guy with four films in the top twenty blockbusters of all time (the first only three Star Wars films and Raiders of the Lost Ark) what he needs to do to make a blockbuster. On the other hand, Jar Jar sucks and the refrigerator scene in Indy 4 was redonkulous. Speaking of nuking the fridge, Spielberg recently took the blame for that scene (but blamed Lucas for the aliens). When Curtis brought up the fridge scene during the interview, Lucas reportedly looked stunned:

“It’s not true,” he said. “He’s trying to protect me.” In fact, it was Spielberg who “didn’t believe” the scene. In response to Spielberg’s fears, Lucas put together a whole nuking-the-fridge dossier. It was about six inches thick, he indicated with his hands. Lucas said that if the refrigerator were lead-lined, and if Indy didn’t break his neck when the fridge crashed to earth, and if he were able to get the door open, he could, in fact, survive. “The odds of surviving that refrigerator — from a lot of scientists — are about 50-50,” Lucas said.

I want to be the scientist who gets to study that.

Another tidbit from the long interview:

Lucas’s films are relentlessly — and to some, maddeningly — old-fashioned and naïve. “If it’s a popcorn movie,” Lucas told me, “it needs a lot of corn.”

Nah, they don’t need to always be corny, but they do need more Ewan McGregor:

Look at those fighter piloting skills. Why didn’t he get to star in Red Tails? Is a white boy not good enough to star in a picture about the Tuskegee Airmen? That’s racist!

[Image credits: Kotaku, Rampaged Reality, The Frogman, and Gingerhaze]