George Lucas, a pioneering filmmaker and visionary, has forever shaped the world of cinema with his epic creations. Born on May 14, 1944, Lucas’s artistic brilliance and unwavering passion for storytelling have produced some of the most iconic and beloved films of all time. From the epic Star Wars saga that took us to a galaxy far, far away, to the timeless adventure film Indiana Jones, George Lucas has not only defined popular culture but also changed how we view movies. Here are ten facts you probably didn’t know about the man who is considered a deity by some!

A Near-Fatal Car Crash Led George Lucas to Filmmaking…

George Lucas didn’t aspire to direct films as a child – he loved cars and wanted to become a race car driver. This is evident if you’ve ever seen American Graffiti, but his love for racing extended beyond classic vehicles in movies. He wanted nothing more than to be a race car driver, and in high school, he acquired a yellow Autobianchi Bianchina. While Lucas may have been a good driver, he wasn’t an enthusiastic student. One day, a trip to the library to work on a term paper proved futile, so he chose to go home instead. Just before entering his family’s property, a Chevy Impala from the opposite direction collided with the side of his car. He rolled into a large walnut tree and was thankfully thrown from the car. The car was destroyed, and Lucas was seriously injured. He was unconscious and coughing up blood, so he was rushed to the emergency room. Lucas suffered multiple fractures and bruised lungs. He regained consciousness within hours and had to undergo physical therapy to recover. The crash had done more than damage his body – it also deterred him from race car driving. He redirected his focus elsewhere – to the world of photography – and ultimately, film school. George Lucas later honored his old car in the film American Graffiti by featuring a yellow 1932 Ford Deuce Coupe. [source]

Lucas’s Favorite Character in “Star Wars” is One Many Fans Dislike…

Over the years, George Lucas has created many characters, and many of them have become beloved icons that millions of people around the world have grown up with. These include Indiana Jones, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and dozens more. The list also includes some characters that haven’t been as well received by fans, and at the top of that list is none other than everyone’s favorite to hate; Jar Jar Binks (as seen in the image below). While most fans don’t consider Jar Jar to be a fantastic character, his biggest fan is the man who created him: George Lucas himself. [source]

Lucas Called Joseph Campbell His “Yoda”…

George Lucas drew inspiration from many people and works when crafting Star Wars. There’s much of Frank Herbert’s Dune in the film, as well as elements from various other movies and books. One of the most significant influences on Lucas’s work is Joseph Campbell’s writing, most notably his work that inspired Lucas, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. In the book, Campbell discusses his theory of the “hero’s journey,” which influenced Lucas’s storytelling in his most prominent work. Campbell is perhaps best known to the world thanks to Lucas, who credited the author’s work with directly influencing the creation of his Star Wars films. Campbell was also a mythologist who understood the nature of world-building, and this helped inform Lucas’s creation of the franchise that made him a household name. After Star Wars became a massive success, Lucas later called Campbell his “Yoda,” but it would be a while before they met. They met in 1984 when Campbell visited the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Lucas was in the audience, and with the help of David Abrams, they met and became friends. [source]

Lucas Was So Convinced Star Wars Would Flop That He Made a Costly Bet with Steven Spielberg…

Creating Star Wars wasn’t easy, and George Lucas had little confidence in the film’s success. He was plagued by on-set issues, a limited budget, and all sorts of problems that made him believe it would never work. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have been friends for ages, and while Lucas was working on his beloved classic, Spielberg was working on his: Close Encounters of the Third Kind. When Lucas’s work was delayed due to various issues, he visited his buddy on the set of his film, and the two filmmakers made a bet. Lucas was convinced that Spielberg’s film would earn significantly more money than his own, so the bet was that Lucas would receive 2.5% of the income for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Spielberg would receive 2.5% of the income for Star Wars. Needless to say, while Close Encounters was a successful film, it didn’t surpass Star Wars in any way. Due to the bet, George Lucas has paid millions to Steven Spielberg over the years. According to Business Insider, the sum Lucas likely paid out to Spielberg is around $40 million. [source]

He Also Had a Strong Interest in Model Airplanes…

It wasn’t just race cars that occupied George Lucas’s mind as a youth; he also enjoyed flying model planes and even dreamed of becoming a pilot. His passion for space and aviation themes is said to have inspired him to create the Star Wars saga. [source]

Retained the Film Rights and Became a Billionaire…

As previously mentioned, George Lucas expected Star Wars to flop before it became a global success and an iconic film. However, he chose to retain the rights to the film instead of taking a higher salary, which later made him a billionaire when the film became a hit. [source]

Established a Special Effects Company That Revolutionized Film Effects…

He founded the special effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) in 1975 to create the groundbreaking special effects in Star Wars. ILM quickly became a leading force in the industry and has contributed to many other major films over the years. [source]

Was Offered to Direct Apocalypse Now

Lucas was originally slated to direct the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, but he pulled out of the project and chose to focus wholeheartedly on Star Wars. [source]

Chewbacca Was Inspired by Lucas’s Dog…

George Lucas was partially inspired by his dog, an Alaskan Malamute, when creating the beloved Star Wars character Chewbacca. He used his dog’s appearance and personality as a model for the iconic Wookiee character. [source]

A Collector of Classic Film Posters…

George Lucas owns one of the largest private collections of classic film posters in the world. His collection includes rare and valuable posters from various decades and genres. [source]

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