Star Wars is one of the most successful franchises in movie history, but as post-production loomed in 1976, George Lucas was convinced the film would be a flop, according to a recent account by legendary actor Richard Dreyfuss.
In a four-part BBC 2 documentary that looks at the history of science fiction in pop culture, Dreyfuss — who was filming Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters Of The Third Kind at the time — says:
“George was seeing the film we were shooting, and in many ways he had wanted that to be ‘Star Wars.'”
Dreyfuss also recalls a meeting he had with a very gloom Lucas, now 70, who was sure he had just made a children’s movie when his intention was to make an adult’s film. They all felt sorry for him, not knowing that his life would soon change forever and Star Wars would become a multi-billion dollar franchise.
It is widely known that, what later was Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, had run into some difficulties while filming on location in Tunisia, England, and Guatemala, encountering bad weather, faltering equipment, as well as financial troubles.
Principal photography for Star Wars began in March of 1976 and Lucas fell behind schedule from the start due to electronic malfunctions.
Cinematographer Gilbert Taylor said that Lucas avoided any meetings with him during production, as he was immersed in solving all the issues that came up, “I read the extra-long script many times and made my own decisions as to how I would shoot the picture.”
To make matters worse, an unusual storm in Tunisia delayed things further, Taylor recalls:
“…you couldn’t really see where the land ended and the sky began. It was all a gray mess, and the robots were just a blur.”
Some of the Star Wars cast also had concerns, especially when it came to the dialogue, such was the case with Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Anthony Daniels (C3PO).
Daniels spoke for the documentary:
“I remember driving across the desert one morning with Mark Hamill. We, out of courtesy, were going through each other’s lines and I said to him, ‘How can you say rubbish like that with a straight face.’ He said, ‘Well you have to say it as well!'”
“And I said, ‘Yes, but I am behind a mask. None of my friends know I am in this movie so it’s fine.'”
“Probably we all thought, ‘This is not a good film. It’s not a film anyone’s going to see.'”
Almost 40 years to the date of Star Wars’ release on May 25, 1977, fans are awaiting the upcoming seventh installment to be released in December of 2015, a truly timeless franchise.
[Image via Deviantart]