George Lucas Speaks on Diversity in Star Wars at Cannes Film Festival

George Lucas discusses thematic depth at Cannes Film Festival.

by Nouman Rasool
George Lucas Speaks on Diversity in Star Wars at Cannes Film Festival
© Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Celebrated filmmaker George Lucas, of course the mind behind the iconic Star Wars series, addressed critics who were asking questions about why the series lacked diversity at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival. Speaking on a panel discussing his story decisions behind the much-loved series, Lucas participated one day ahead of being awarded an honorary Palme d'Or during the festival's closing ceremony.

Lucas, who turned 80 this May, reminisced about the backlash he faced concerning the racial and gender representation in the initial six films of the Star Wars universe, which he directed or produced. Critics have often highlighted a lack of diversity, to which Lucas humorously responded, "They would say, ‘It’s all white men.'

I’d say, it's not. Most of the people are aliens." He emphasized the franchise's allegorical elements, promoting the acceptance of individuals regardless of their appearance, whether "big and furry" or "green and whatever," reinforcing his message that "all people are equal."

Robotic Discrimination Metaphor

The creator further noted that in his narratives, discrimination is exclusively experienced by robots and droids, using this as a metaphor for societal prejudices.

"That was a way of saying people are always discriminating against something, and sooner or later that's what's going to happen," he explained, linking the narrative with contemporary discussions of AI and robotics. Lucas went even further to mandate a more racially diversified cast presence for the character of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian and Samuel L.

Jackson as Mace Windu. He continued by emphasizing how these women were strong leads in both trilogies – whether it be Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia or Natalie Portman as Padme Amidala – and how they were at the heart of the resistance movements.

Lucas's involvement in Star Wars ranges from its 1977 first film, A New Hope, to the time when he sold his company Lucasfilm to Disney, in 2012. Apart from this, he became known as the creator of the Indiana Jones series and directed blockbusters like the 1973 hit American Graffiti.

Husband since 2013 to Mellody Hobson and father of four, namely, Lucas's life was also as energetic as his professional journey. As he takes center stage in Cannes, in order to receive the Festival's Honorary Palme d'Or, what he contributed to the film and how he had attempted to use his works to subtly address complex themes remains part of his great legacy.

Cannes Film Festival