It’s not often you are told you are about to interview one of pop culture’s living legends. However, that is exactly what happened a couple weeks ago when we were on our way back to our hotel while visiting Pixar. “You are interviewing George Lucas” said our magic making leader which led to a very loud, somewhat squealy “WHATTTTTTTT OHMYGAWD EEEEEEEEE” from the 25 of us that were magically whisked to Pixar and Skywalker Ranch for a very special press trip. So, as you can see… we were pretty freaking excited.
The arrival to Skywalker Ranch was crazy- I mean, the place is gorgeous (see my tour pics), but as we sat there awaiting to go into possibly the best screening theater on the planet- there arrived “The Maker” himself, George Lucas was in the building my friends. We all walked into the theater and glanced behind us, and George had taken a seat to watch Strange Magic while we were watching it. That was pretty cool. I can now say I have watched a movie with George Lucas (new bestie!!). After the film ended, we were treated to a performance from Elijah Kelley, who stars as Sunny in the film, followed by an interview with Elijah and then ta-da, talking to George Lucas.
Check out what George Lucas says on Parenthood, Love and Making Strange Magic
On Why He Wanted To Make Strange Magic
George Lucas: It started quite a while ago, about 15 years ago, and I just had the idea that it would be fun. I love to do musicals using my favorite music, so it kinda harkens back to my pre-Star Wars days […] the idea of an upbeat, fun, simple, movie just appealed to me. I’d finished all the Star Wars and everything, and I was producing films but, I wanted to do one that I could actually get my hands dirty. We started with a small group here, designing things, doing animation tests, and doing this, and so it went on for years and years and years. I was kind of doing it on the side and it kept growing, and it’s one of those fun movies. I loved doing it because I love the music. I love coming to work on it. I love watching it, which is the key in the end for me. Just it’s something I did for the fun of it.
On How Being A Parent Inspires Stories Like Strange Magic, Star Wars, And More
GL: I’m a big parent person, kid person. I didn’t think much about kids when I was working a lot, I thought “I’ll have kids when I’m ready.” Then, when my then-wife and I decided to have kids, we tried and we couldn’t. In the end I ended up adopting kids.[…] I remember when I was walking through the hospital with her, you know she was a couple of hours old, it was like lightning struck me. I’ve never had an experience like that ever, and the magic of it hit me.
So I was raising my daughter (after his divorce) and then my daughter said “I want to have a brother.” I knew how to adopt, I had become a sort of adoption specialist for all my friends because I’d adopted her. So, I got talked into having another one.
You have one [child] and you say oh God, she’s walking now, she’s talking, she’s doing this, and the only way you can do it again is if we have another one. It gets better and better, until obviously they become teenagers. They’re programmed to be obnoxious, and that’s the only way you can get rid of them, otherwise you would baby them for the rest of their lives. I went through three of them and then wanted to have another one. I forgot, it’s like pregnancy I guess, you forget. You forget what they were like as teenagers, and you say oh, but they’re so cute I want another one. So I ended up having another one, and this one, because of technology and everything, I was able to have a natural baby.
On What Attracts Him To Music As A Filmmaker
GL: I love music, music’s a huge part of my life. I love all kinds of music, and obviously I listen to music every day on the radio, top 40, and all that kinda stuff, but I also listen to a lot of other kinds of music. But with this one, one of the inspirations was, I wondered if I could tell a love story using love songs. I could just take them and string them all together so they actually told the story, which was the original challenge. In the beginning the movie was about twice as long as it is now, which means it had about twice as much music, and I feel pained at the fact that some of the sequences were cut.
There were great sequences with great songs, and Marius (de Vries) even recorded them, actors recorded them, we had all these great things, but ultimately there’s a thing called discipline, because I could make a 5 hour musical. It’s like American Graffiti, I could sit and listen to it all day. That was a part of American Graffiti, I just wanted to have a movie that I could sit in the editing room and listen to and have a good time.
This is my pre-Star Wars period. I’m going back in time. I tell people I’m going to go back and do experimental films like I did in college, well this is getting myself back there, which is just a fun movie that I love to listen to. A lot of the songs were my favorite songs, but a lot of them really had to do with trying to tell the story.
On A Theme Of Healing And Redemption In Strange Magic
GL: There’s an issue on this one which is why I made it for older kids. That doesn’t mean it’s like Star Wars, five-year olds watch Star Wars, and you have people with their faces burned off crawling up volcanoes and things, and the kids seem to somehow survive it. One of the things, especially for young girls, is to be brave.
That’s a key element. In the end princesses are brave. Especially Marion, she goes from being a princess who’s afraid of the dark force, to somebody who is actually facing things that are scary, and getting through them.
On Music, Life….and Love
GL: The the one that started it is the opening song, that was the first song I picked. I know it’s also at the end, but I love that song…I Can’t Help Falling In Love. I grew up under the tutelage of Elvis, and my wife says I still have that pompous pompadour. At the same time, it’s been recorded several times, each time it’s recorded it’s better and better. To me it was the inspiration to say this is what this movie’s about. Wise men say only fools fall in love.
In my experience with love, as I was dating for those 20 years, I had some girlfriends who I knew weren’t right. I would say high maintenance, difficult, all the things you don’t want. Yet I fell in love with them.
And ultimately the only thing I can say is there’s no accounting for love, no matter how rational you think you’re being. You say well I’ll never do that, you do it. Neither one of us wanted to fall in love and we both did, and we knew that ultimately it wasn’t gonna actually work, but you try anyway.
Strange Magic is Rated PG and opens January 23rd.