George Lucas advocated the nutritional value of beetles and monkey brains Monday night during an interview with Michael Milken, where the legendary director gave insight into several of his films. He also warned his children that their inheritance won’t be large enough to afford a fancy private jet.
The event was part of the Milken Institute Global Conference at the Beverly Hilton this week.
Naturally, Milken also asked Lucas to settle the Han Solo-Greedo, who-shot-first question. “I was surprised how vigorous this debate was all over the world,” Milken said.
Lucas went on and on about a favorite topic of his, anthropology, but eventually said, as he has before, that bad buy Greedo shot at Han first.
He acknowledged it was “confusing” in the original version of Star Wars who drew first, but said: “When I did the special edition, I decided to make it a little clearer that Greedo shot first. But, of course, that morality had obviously slipped out of the current thinking of most young people, and they liked the idea that Han Solo was a coldblooded killer.”
Milken started by showing a film about things the audience probably doesn’t know about Lucas, like: His first hit, American Graffiti, was semi biographical; Lucas wanted to be a racecar driver until a near-fatal accident in high school; he was rejected when he tried to join the U.S. Air Force as an officer in 1966 because of too many speeding tickets; and he has signed The Giving Pledge along with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, which means he’ll give at least half his wealth to charity.
“Money is a burden for people,” he said. “I know my kids are not gonna be destitute but they’re never going to be able to afford a Learjet, unless they do it themselves.”
The reference to exotic food, of course, occurred after Milken, who is passionate about nutrition, showed a scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which Lucas executive produced.
Lucas also spoke of how he got into moviemaking almost by accident. After his dad discouraged him from studying art, Lucas was set on anthropology, until his friend took him to USC and told him about “cinematography.”
‘I had no idea that you could actually to go college to learn how to make movies,” Lucas said. “I wasn’t that in to movies.”
After his first film at USC, a one-minute short called Look at Life, won numerous awards, his vocation was set.
Lucas said he has created more than 5,000 characters for Star Wars and there are about a dozen encyclopedias in print for figuring them all out. The fictional planet Tatooine, he said, was named for a town in Tunisia.
Milken spent a lot of time asking about one of his favorites, the 1988 Jeff Bridges film, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, which Lucas executive produced and Francis Ford Coppola directed.
Coppola originally wanted Tucker, the true story of carmaker Preston Tucker, made as a musical and ready for release in 1976 to coincide with the nation’s bicentennial celebrations. Lucas, though, was working on Star Wars at the time, so Tucker had to wait 12 years.
The entire 43-minute interview is below.