Posted on Thursday, December 10th, 2009 by Russ Fischer
Even the most casual Star Wars and/or David Lynch scholar knows that Lynch was offered a gig directing Return of the Jedi and turned it down. Lynch’s features at that point were Eraserhead and The Elephant Man — both incredible examples of storytelling and world building on relatively controlled budgets. One can only surmise that something along those lines is what Lucas put the job in Lynch’s path.
The fact of not doing the film isn’t something that’s ever been a big deal in the director’s history. For example, it gets only a couple lines in Lynch on Lynch: “I went to meet George Lucas, who had offered me the third Star Wars to direct, and I’ve never even really liked science fiction. I like elements of it, but it needs to be combined with other genres. And, obviously, Star Wars was totally George’s thing.”
Ironically, Lynch went on to make Dune immediately afterward — a film in which science fiction was certainly combined with a lot of other genres, especially in Lynch’s hands. Publicly, he’s never talked much about the Lucas experience, but in mid-November he told the detailed story to a small group. It’s worth a listen.
Lynch is turning into quite the raconteur in his old age. This obviously isn’t the first time he’s told this story, and it comes across well-timed here. Even if the subject matter wasn’t something of broad interest, just listening to him tell it, in that never-changing boyish Montana accent, would be a treat. And when he starts to describe the headache he got when Lucas started showing off the proposed creatures for Return of the Jedi…well, it’s like a foreshadowing of the prequels. I’m actually disappointed that Lucas sounds so…typical Hollywood. As Lynch tells it, he had insane security, then showed off with a Ferarri and silly lunch. Then again, if the pitch had been sane, Lynch might have taken it and everything could be different.