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If you like George Lucas's story, you might also like:
James Cameron,
Francis Ford Coppola,
Ron Howard,
Peter Jackson,
James Earl Jones,
James Rosenquist,
Julie Taymor,
Kent Weeks and
Robert Zemeckis

George Lucas can also be seen and heard in our Podcast Center

George Lucas also appears in the videos:
Education in the 21st Century
Passion, Creativity and the Arts: Writing for Motion Pictures
The Arts, Sciences & Creativity
The Power of Words
Media and Social Responsibility

Teachers can find prepared lesson plans featuring George Lucas in the Achievement Curriculum section:
The Power of Words
Talent and Vision

Related Links:
Lucas Museum
Star Wars
The Giving Pledge

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George Lucas
George Lucas
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George Lucas Interview (page: 2 / 9)

Creator of "Star Wars"

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  George Lucas

Were there any books or films that were important to you, that influenced or inspired you to do the kind of work you wanted to do?

George Lucas Interview Photo
George Lucas: When I was younger, I had a collection of history books that I was addicted to, a whole series about famous people in history from Ancient Greece and Alexander the Great, up to the Civil War -- the Monitor and the Merrimac. I think they were called "Landmark" books, and I collected a whole library of them. I used to love to read those books. It started me on a lifelong love of history. Even in high school I was very interested in history -- why people do the things they do. As a kid I spent a lot of time trying to relate the past to the present.

I liked all the normal kinds of adventure books, Kidnapped, Treasure Island, Huck Finn sorts of things. I loved Swiss Family Robinson and that whole period of South Sea adventure movies. I liked westerns. Westerns were very big when I was growing up. When we finally got a television there was a whole run of westerns on television. John Wayne films, directed by John Ford, before I knew who John Ford was. I think those were very influential in my enjoyment of movies.

Do you think you had a natural talent for filmmaking? What drew you to that line of work?

George Lucas: Everybody has talent and it's just a matter of moving around until you've discovered what it is. A talent is a combination of something you love a great deal and something you can lose yourself in -- something that you can start at 9 o'clock, look up from your work and it's 10 o'clock at night -- and also something that you have a talent, not a talent for, but skills that you have a natural ability to do very well. And usually those two things go together.

[ Key to Success ] Passion

A lot of people like to do certain things, but they're not that good at it. Keep going through the things that you like to do, until you find something that you actually seem to be extremely good at. It can be anything. There's lots and lots of different things out there. It's a matter of moving around until you find the one for you, the niche that you fit into.

Once you started making films, do you think it came easy for you?

George Lucas: Learning to make films is very easy. Learning what to make films about is very hard. What you've really got to do is focus on learning as much about life, and about various aspects of it first. Then learn just the techniques of making a movie because that stuff you can pick up pretty quickly. But having a really good understanding of history, literature, psychology, sciences -- are very, very important to actually being able to make movies.

[ Key to Success ] Preparation

In your opinion, what personal characteristics are most important for success in any field?

George Lucas Interview Photo
George Lucas: If you want to be successful in a particular field of endeavor, I think perseverance is one of the key qualities. It's very important that you find something that you care about, that you have a deep passion for, because you're going to have to devote a lot of your life to it. And you're going to have to really be focused on it. And you're going to have to overcome a lot of hurdles, a lot of people saying you can't do it. And you're going to have to take a lot of risks.

Working hard is very important. You have to find something that you love enough to be able to take those risks, to be able to jump over the hurdles, to be able to break through the brick walls that are always going to be placed in front of you. If you don't have that kind of feeling for what it is you're doing, you'll stop at the first giant hurdle. So, I think you'll never make it unless you persevere. Unless you overcome a lot of very difficult obstacles. I think that's one of the most important characteristics in terms of an occupation.

Looking back on the bumps in your career, as well as your successes, what advice would you give a young person?

George Lucas: Working hard is very important. You're not going to get anywhere without working extremely hard.

No matter how easy it looks on the outside, it's a very, very difficult struggle. You don't see the struggle part of a person's life. You only see the success they have. But I haven't met anybody here at the Academy or anywhere else that hasn't been able to describe years and years and years of very, very difficult struggle through the whole process of achieving anything whatsoever. And there's no way to sort of get around that. The secret is just not to give up hope. It's very hard not to because if you're really doing something worthwhile, I think you will be pushed to the brink of hopelessness before you come through the other side. You just have to hang in through that.

Did that happen to you?

George Lucas: Oh yeah, lots of times.

I've had much more down in my life than I've had up. And much more struggle. First of all, when I went into the film school everybody said, "What are you doing? This is a complete dead-end for a career." Because nobody had ever made it from a film school into the actual film industry. Maybe you'd go to work for Lockheed, or some industrial company to do industrial films, but nobody actually made it into the entertainment business. I had no interest in going into the entertainment business, so I didn't really care. I was more interested in just doing films, going back to San Francisco, doing experimental films and that sort of thing, maybe documentaries and that sort of thing. So I didn't care. Then I finished school, I went to San Francisco, and everybody said, "Why are you going to San Francisco?" I said, "That's where I live." They said, "You can't possibly work in the film business living in San Francisco." And I said, "Well, I want to live where I want to live, and I will make films because I love to make films."

My first six years in the business was hopeless. There's lot of times when you sit and you say, "Why am I doing this? I'll never make it. It's just not going to happen. I should really go out and get a real job, and try to survive," because I'd borrowed money from my parents. I'd borrowed money from my friends. You know, it didn't look like I was ever going to actually be able to pay anybody back. This is part of living. You do have to eat, pay rent and pay back your friends who are supporting you.

[ Key to Success ] Courage

I mean, it took me years to get my first film off the ground. As I talk to film students now especially, I say, "The easiest job you'll ever get is to try to make your first film." That's the easy one to get, is the first film because nobody knows whether you can make a film or not. You've made a bunch of little projects, you've shown off you have talent, and you talk real fast, and you convince somebody that you should be doing a feature. And, they let you do a feature. After you've done that feature, then you have heck of a difficult time getting your second film off the ground. They look at your first film and they say, "Oh well, we don't want you anymore."

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This page last revised on Dec 10, 2013 01:03 EST
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