Almost a year after Disney bought Lucasfilm and acquired the rights to make more Star Wars movies, it's still unclear what exactly will be George Lucas' role. There were several reports that his involvement with the new movies will be minimal and only if "they call him". Now let's go back and see what we know so far about Lucas and his involvement with the new Star Wars movies...
First let's talk about the Daniel Day-Lewis rumor.
When the rumor hit the web many people refused to believe it mainly because J.J. Abrams was not there and Lucas' new role doesn't include casting people for the new movies. Personally I think people underestimate Lucas' part in the upcoming Star Wars projects.
Although the rumor indeed sounds incredible and very unlikely it is not that illogical. Some facts:
Daniel Day-Lewis' latest movie was Lincoln directed by Steven Spielberg. We all know the relationship between Lucas and Spielberg and guess who is the producer of Lincoln? That's right, it's Kathleen Kennedy. So if Disney wants DDL to be involved somehow with the new movies it's most logical to turn to Kathleen Kennedy and Spielberg's best friend to convince him.
Also as it was pointed out in the comments section (thanks to Frank Marsteller) Lewis' likeness was used in early concept art for The Phantom Menace. More than one of the conceptual designers wanted him in a role and in a black Jedi outfit based on Luke's outfit in Return of the Jedi.
Of course I'm not saying this rumor is true but it's not that far fetched. And if true it really shows that Lucas will still have a big influence on everything and Disney do care about his opinion. Now let's go back and see what we know so far about Lucas' involvement with the new movies.
Similar to the above situation George Lucas was used to convince the original Star Wars cast members to join the new movies. Lucas himself said:
"We had already signed Mark and Carrie and Harrison—or we were pretty much in final stages of negotiation. So I called them to say, ‘Look, this is what’s going on.’ ” He pauses. “Maybe I’m not supposed to say that. I think they want to announce that with some big whoop-de-do, but we were negotiating with them.”
Still on several occasions Lucas spoke to the press and made it clear that he won't do much on the upcoming movies:
“[If the filmmakers ask],‘Who’s this guy?’ I can tell them. I mean, they have a hundred encyclopedias and things, but I actually know a lot. I can say, ‘This is this and this is that.’ If they need help or anything, they’ll give me a call. Otherwise, I’m off on my own.”Soon after the deal between Disney and Lucas, his biographer Dale Pollock shared some interesting bits about the initial idea of the SW saga and also revealed what else was part of the deal:
“It was originally a 12-part saga. The three most exciting stories were 7, 8 and 9. They had propulsive action, really interesting new worlds, new characters. I remember thinking, ‘I want to see these 3 movies."
About the new sequel trilogy, Pollock revealed that they take place approximately 20 years after the events of the original trilogy. This places Luke Skywalker in his late 30s or early to mid-40s. According to Pollock, Lucas’ outlines will be an essential foundation of the upcoming trilogy -
"Writers will absolutely take his outline. That’s in part what Disney bought.”Lucas also spoke about his story treatments and that Disney and Kathleen Kennedy now have a full control over them and that they will take them for a future consideration:
I have story treatments of Episodes 7, 8 and 9 and a bunch of other movies, and obviously we have hundreds of books and comics, and everything you could possibly imagine. I moved that treasure trove of stories and various things to Kathleen and I have complete confidence that she’s going to take them and make great movies.So if indeed Episode 7 writer Michael Arndt has written the script based on Lucas' treatment they surely will very often consult with him.
Still Disney wanted to make sure that Lucas understood that they, not Lucasfilm, would have final say over any future movies.
“We needed to have an understanding that if we acquire the company, despite tons of collegial conversations and collaboration, at the end of the day, we have to be the ones who sign off on whatever the plans are,” says Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios.At first Lucas wouldn’t even turn over his rough sketches of the next three Star Wars films. When Disney executives asked to see them, he assured them they would be great and said they should just trust him.
Once Lucas got assurances from Disney in writing about the broad outlines of the deal, he agreed to turn over the treatments—but insisted they could only be read by Disney's Iger, Horn, and Kevin Mayer.
“We promised,” says Iger. “We had to sign an agreement.”When Iger finally got a look at the treatments, he was elated. According to him from a storytelling perspective they had a lot of potential.
So to sum things up - since The Deal, Disney made it clear that they are taking the Star Wars legacy very seriously. They really are trying hard to make something that the fans will approve. George Lucas is an important part of all this and Disney and Kathleen Kennedy will often turn to him for advise and help. They will surely use his big influence on the filmmaking business and make most of it.
No matter what some people think about the Prequel Trilogy and some of Lucas' screenplays he will always be the father of Star Wars. Without him none of this would have happened. And I think Disney very well realizes that.
So will Lucas have a big involvement with the next movies? Yes, I think so. One way or another...