David Cronenberg Reveals Why He Turned Down Directing Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi

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Return of the Jedi is definitely the weakest of the Original Trilogy movies. Space bikini notwithstanding, the Jabba’s Palace stuff in the first act takes forever to get going, the threat of the second Death Star is a teeny bit same-y and, of course, there’s the god damn Ewoks (even Mark Hamill had some misgivings).

But let’s take a peek into an alternative cinematic universe where Richard Marquand (who I understand was pretty much being puppeteered by George Lucas) didn’t direct and we got one of the other potential candidates. Imagine living in a world where we got Steven Spielberg’s take on the film, or how about the seriously bonkers (and probably franchise-killing) direction that David Lynch would have taken the story in. Now we can add another name to the list: imagine David Cronenberg’s Return of the Jedi.

I’m thinking that Jabba would be instantly 10x grosser than he already was, we’d see some truly freaky alien designs and you can guarantee that when Luke removed Vader’s mask, there’d be some horrific man-machine burns victim under there rather than a kindly potato man.

According to this latest interview with EW, we came very, very close to seeing what Cronenberg would have done with Star Wars, with the director recalling the following:

“I still recall getting a phone call. Somebody said that they were from, I guess it was Lucasfilm, and asked me if I was interested in — at that point it was called Revenge of the Jedi, actually, until somebody pointed out that it was against Jedi philosophy to think in terms of revenge. But, anyway, I was asked if I would be interested in considering that, and meeting with everybody, and I said, with the arrogance of youth — relative youth, anyway — I said, ‘Well, I’m not used to doing other people’s material.’ And there was like a stunned silence and then ‘Click’ — hang up. Basically, that was as close as I came to that.”

In retrospect this didn’t harm his career, but you have to think that he must have watched and wondered what could have been. But looking back on the decision with the wisdom of age, he’s glad he didn’t go for it. When he was asked whether he’d ever pondered what his version of the movie would look like, he responded:

“No, not really, because, in a way that’s like doing one episode in a well-established TV series. The casting is fixed of the main characters — the look of it, the tone of it, people’s expectations for it, are all fixed. You are not involved in the creating of that. And therefore you’re a little bit more like a traffic cop than you are like, for me, what a creative director can be. So that’s why it wouldn’t have interested me, really.

I mean, you have Alfonso Cuarón doing a Harry Potter episode, and he did his best to try to make it stand out from the others, but basically, it’s a Harry Potter episode. And if you didn’t know that Alfonso directed it, you wouldn’t be able to tell. So, these are not attractive options for me. I mean, there’s the lure of money, and having a big budget, and having excitement around the film you’re making — but on the deep creative level, it would for me be frustrating, I think. Just frustrating.”

I’ve got to disagree with Cronenberg about Prisoner of Azkaban not feeling like a Cuaron movie. Sure, it isn’t a hugely stylistic pic, but it’s leaps and bounds beyond the rest of the franchise. Sadly, it appears that Lucasfilm and Disney simply aren’t looking for Star Wars directors with a distinctive style anymore – just check out their treatment of Gareth Edwards on Rogue One or the firing of Phil Lord and Chris Miller from Solo. Instead, they’d much rather someone who works within the house style and doesn’t rock the boat (Hi, J.J. Abrams).

Source: EW

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