Date of Birth: May 14, 1944
Race car driving's loss was cinema's gain after George Lucas gave
up an early passion for competitive car racing following a serious
The course he took to get where he is now saw him
attending film school at the University of Southern California
where he turned out several prize-winning short films, including
THX-1138: 4EB/Electronic Labyrinth. He later shot a longer
version of that film for his first feature, while the title was
shortened to THX 1138.
While his first feature was a cold and technical look at the
future, his next was a warm and breezy look at the past --
American Graffiti. That look back at West Coast teens coming of
age in the early '60s was made on an impossibly tight budget and
went on to reap huge profits as critics and audiences alike fell in
love with it.
It was American Graffiti that allowed Lucas the clout he
needed to launch his vision out into space with the first of the Star
Wars series. Three years of preparation went into that first film. But that was nothing compared to the 16 years fans have had to wait for the next Star Wars movies to hit
the screen since Return of the Jedi landed in theaters in 1983.
"It's basically my movie that I've been working on for 20
years," Lucas says about Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom
Menace. And although he professes to being not that keen on
technology, preferring to think of himself as a storyteller, he still
had to invent the necessary technology to tell his tales.
"When I started the first Star Wars," he says, "I had
absolutely no idea what we were going to do. Everybody said what
we were doing was impossible, and I just blindly went ahead and
did it anyway. This time, even though I pushing Industrial Light
and Magic into frontiers where they've never gone before, I knew
after working with them for 20 years that they could get it done."
Like his award-winning special effects people at Industrial
Light and Magic, Lucas is also known for being able to get the job
done, as millions of Star Wars fans will attest to.
"You're always faced with certain limitations," Lucas says,
"but it's how well you work in those limitations that defines a
really talented filmmaker from someone who's just average.
Because everybody has problems, Everybody has limitations. Only
some of us learn how to manipulate through those in a more
efficient manner than other people. And that's really the secret."
Indiana Jones 4 (2006)
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith(2005)
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones(2002)
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace(1999)
Star Wars (1977)
THX 1138 (1970)