‘Star Wars’: Why Ron Howard Felt George Lucas’ Idea Was ‘Pretty Terrible’

George Lucas told Ron Howard about his vision for Star Wars early on, however, Howard wasn’t initially a fan of the idea. He thought Star Wars was going to be bad for a very specific reason. Here’s a look at Howard’s surprisingly long history with Lucas.

George Lucas and Ron Howard wearing ties
George Lucas and Ron Howard | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

George Lucas wanted ‘Star Wars’ to be like this classic movie but faster

Star Wars didn’t make Lucas famous. He became famous because he directed American Graffiti, a nostalgic look at teenage life in the 1960s starring Howard. Tulsa World reports Lucas and Howard became friends talking about film school. 

In addition, Lucas told Howard about his plans for the future. Lucas revealed he envisioned making a film with the grandeur of Stanley Kubrick’s classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, However, Lucas wanted his film to have a faster pace. This makes sense, as people who dislike 2001: A Space Odyssey often see its slow, deliberate pacing as its fatal flaw. Interestingly, a pod from 2001: A Space Odyssey can be glimpsed in The Phantom Menace when Watto is talking to Qui-Gon Jinn.

A trailer for 2001: A Space Odyssey

In addition, Howard said Lucas compared Star Wars to another famous work of science fiction. “George tried to explain it as a kind of Flash Gordon movie but with better special effects,” Mr. Howard told The New York Times. “And I thought it sounded like a pretty terrible idea. Sci-fi was really a B-minus genre. I liked Planet of the Apes all right but I couldn’t possibly imagine what he was trying to do.”

Why Ron Howard thought this was a terrible idea

Howards’ view of science fiction might seem reductive today, however, it was probably influenced by the time period. Prior to Star Wars, big-budget science fiction films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Metropolis were few and far between. Science fiction movies were often cheap and cheesy drive-in movies like Plan 9 from Outer Space and Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster. Star Wars blazed a trail for more expensive science fiction movies and helped make the genre a Hollywood staple. 

A teaser for A New Hope

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Eventually, Howard realized Star Wars was a major project, however, he was unable to secure an audition. Howard is an icon, however, he could’ve been even more famous if he played Luke Skywalker. Luke certainly had some of Howard’s small-town charm in the original Star Wars, so Howard could have played the part.

Ron Howard’s continued work with George Lucas and ‘Star Wars’

Howard’s connection to Lucas didn’t end with American Graffiti. Howard directed Willow, a film Lucas produced. They worked together closely on the film. In addition, Howard eventually made his mark on a galaxy, far, far away by directing Solo: A Star Wars Story. Howard didn’t think Star Wars was a good idea at first but he became one of the creative forces behind the series.