For more than 40 years, Star Wars aficionados have regularly cited Marcia Lucas, George Lucas’ editor on American Graffiti and Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope, as the savior of Star Wars. The Oscar-winner (she won for Star Wars, btw) also edited Martin Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and was supervising editor on Taxi Driver, which all but cements her place as one of the architects of modern Hollywood cinema. She’s the one who came up with the idea that Obi-Wan Kenobi should die in A New Hope and the trench run. As Mark Hamill said back in 2005, “You can see the huge difference in the films [George Lucas] does now and the films that he did when he was married.” So when Marcia Lucas has something to say about Star Wars, ears should perk up because she knows how to make this shit work.
And, boy, does she have some opinions about what J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy have done with Star Wars. In a newly-published book by former Lucasfilm executive editor J.W. Rinzler on Howard Kazanjian, who produced The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, Marcia Lucas gave Abrams and Kennedy the verbal force choke. She says in Howard Kazanjian: A Producer’s Life:
I like Kathleen. I always liked her. She was full of beans. She was really smart and really bright. Really wonderful woman. And I liked her husband, Frank. I liked them a lot. Now that she’s running Lucasfilm and making movies, it seems to me that Kathy Kennedy and J.J. Abrams don’t have a clue about Star Wars. They don’t get it. And J.J. Abrams is writing these stories — when I saw that movie where they kill Han Solo, I was furious. I was furious when they killed Han Solo. Absolutely, positively there was no rhyme or reason to it. I thought, You don’t get the Jedi story. You don’t get the magic of Star Wars. You’re getting rid of Han Solo?
For the woman who suggested taking out old Ben Kenobi, she really has a problem with characters getting iced. In a big get for the anti-Last Jedi crowd, she’s not a big fan of Luke dying or Rey’s inherent force mastery. “They have Luke disintegrate,” she said. “They killed Han Solo. They killed Luke Skywalker. And they don’t have Princess Leia anymore. And they’re spitting out movies every year. And they think it’s important to appeal to a woman’s audience, so now their main character is this female, who’s supposed to have Jedi powers, but we don’t know how she got Jedi powers, or who she is. It sucks. The storylines are terrible. Just terrible. Awful.”
“You can quote me—‘J.J. Abrams, Kathy Kennedy — talk to me.’”
Lucas quit the business after she and George divorced. In Peter Biskind’s book on New Hollywood, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, she didn’t have such warm memories about working with her ex-husband:
I felt we were partners, partners in the ranch, partners in our home, and we did these films together. I wasn’t a fifty percent partner, but I felt I had something to bring to the table. I was the more emotional person who came from the heart, and George was the more intellectual and visual, and I thought that provided a nice balance. But George would never acknowledge that to me. I think he resented my criticisms, felt that all I ever did was put him down. In his mind, I always stayed the stupid Valley girl. He never felt I had any talent, he never felt I was very smart and he never gave me much credit. When we were finishing Jedi, George told me he thought I was a pretty good editor. In the sixteen years of our being together I think that was the only time he complimented me.
Since the divorce, though, her impact has largely been diminished. As Michael Kaminski writes in his book The Secret History Of Star Wars, she has become “the forgotten Lucas.” “[She] is mentioned only occasionally in passing, a background element, and not a single word of hers is quoted,” Kaminski writes. “She is a silent extra, absent from any photographs and only indirectly acknowledged, her contributions downplayed.”
Marcia Lucas, everybody. To paraphrase her: J.J. Abrams, Kathy Kennedy—talk to Marcia Lucas.