While George Lucas receives sole credit for his legendary Star Wars franchise, his close friend Steven Spielberg played a pivotal, albeit quieter role in its success. Though he never directed any Star Wars films, Spielberg offered crucial feedback to Lucas throughout development and stood as his first fan. Their artistic collaboration exemplified a generous creative relationship.

A Filmmaking Friendship Forged Between Steven Spielberg and George Lucas

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s working friendship took root in the 1970s as their careers rose in parallel. Spielberg told The Academy Lucas was “my biggest supporter” when pitching Jaws, while Lucas called Spielberg “my only friend…the only director I knew.”

This bond led to an open exchange while crafting Star Wars. Lucas freely shared early concept art, drafts, and footage with Spielberg, who provided constructive input. “I was his best friend and he didn’t have many,” Spielberg laughed in an interview with Rotten Tomatoes.

George Lucas Lost a Huge 'Star Wars' Bet to Steven Spielberg | Time
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas

Spielberg’s specific suggestions shaped iconic aspects of Star Wars. He reportedly recommended adding R2-D2 and C-3PO for comic relief and encouraged expanding the ending space battle, leading to the film’s grand, climactic visual effects.

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The Ultimate Star Wars Sounding Board

As an ideal creative collaborator, Spielberg validated Lucas’ vision rather than inserting his own. “All he did was enhance and make what I was trying to do better,” Lucas shared.

Steven Spielberg Told George Lucas 'Star Wars' Would Be the 'Biggest Movie of All Time'
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas

When uncertainty struck Lucas during the challenging production, Spielberg buoyed his spirits. “Steven was the believer – he was the guy who said this is going to be fantastic,” Lucas said. Screening an early cut of Star Wars for Spielberg also gave Lucas the confidence boost he needed.

In the documentary Empire of Dreams, Spielberg reminisced on Lucas downplaying his work. But after viewing the cut, an awestruck Spielberg told Lucas simply: “It’s going to be the biggest hit of all time.”

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Turning Down His Own Chance to Direct

Spielberg’s integral role in Star Wars only grew when Lucas approached him to direct sequels The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. But Spielberg refused both offers out of respect for Lucas’ vision.

“It was always George’s franchise. I was just happy to be his sidekick and observe,” Spielberg told Rotten Tomatoes. He wanted Lucas to receive full credit for his masterpiece rather than diluting it.

Spielberg and Lucas Predicted Streaming Movies Back in 1990
Spielberg and Lucas Predicted Streaming Movies Back in 1990

Spielberg’s restraint ensured Star Wars reflected one filmmaker’s pure artistic vision from start to finish. And his guidance reinforced Lucas’ strengths and storytelling, helping unlock Star Wars’ mass appeal.

While crafting his generation-defining space opera, George Lucas discovered the ideal creative collaborator in Steven Spielberg. Their artistic marriage highlights the immense benefits of trusted allies offering constructive advice to sharpen a friend’s vision. And Spielberg’s selfless support of Lucas’ accomplishment shows remarkable restraint. Through camaraderie and counsel, this duo helped birth the ultimate blockbuster.

Source: Rotten Tomatoes

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