The Star Wars saga has had a major impact on modern popular culture and references to characters and situations depicted in the series are often made by English speakers in various countries. Such production could only have been supported by talented artists, well-known for their proficiency in screenwriting or special effects, just to mention two filmmaking aspects that have made Star Wars so successful. Let’s see some of the people to whom we owe, for instance, widely-recognized phrases like “May the Force be with you” and the imperial troops costumes all fans are so crazy about:
1. George Lucas
Born in 1944, George Lucas is the creator of Star Wars and also of the Indiana Jones franchise. After graduating from the University of Southern California in 1967, Lucas co-founded American Zoetrope with Francis Ford Coppola. His first film, THX 1138, was a critical success but did not earn him too much money; the way to success was open with American Graffiti, in 1973, which aside from having commercial success, also received five Academy Award nominations including Best Picture. His hugest success is definitely Star Wars, which became a cultural phenomenon. For the Indiana Jones films, George Lucas has collaborated with Steven Spielberg. Starting with 2012, George Lucas has entered a semi-retirement phase, stating that “I’m moving away from the business… From the company, from all this kind of stuff.”
2. Kathleen Kennedy
Kathleen Kennedy has started to play a major role for the Star Wars saga in the last couple of years, given that she has co-produced Episode VII – The Force Awakens, is also a co-producer of Episode VIII and IX, which will be launched in 2017, respectively 2019, and is also involved in Star Wars anthology films. Only Steven Spielberg and Stan Lee have managed to overcome Kennedy in domestic box office receipts, and her work includes over 60 films, with 120 Academy Award nominations. Three of the highest-grossing films in motion picture history have been produced by Kathleen Kennedy, and with this huge name in filmmaking, it looks like the Star Wars franchise is in good hands.
3. Carrie Fisher
The American actress best known for her portrayal of Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher was the daughter of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. She is known for playing sarcastic characters and her deep husky voice. Carrie Fisher has been dealing most of her adult life with substance abuse and interestingly enough, she actually hated the bagel bun hairstyle she wore in the original Star Wars film. The reason why she accepted the hairdo is that she hadn’t lost weight before playing in the movie, as required by director George Lucas, and she was eager to comply with anything to avoid being fired out.
4. Ralph Angus McQuarrie
The American conceptual designer and illustrator Ralph Angus McQuarrie (1929-2012), is the one who defined the aesthetics of the original Star Wars trilogy and created the looks of characters like Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Dagobah, and C-3PO. McQuarrie won an Academy Award of the film Cocoon. Regarding Star Wars, this is how McQuarrie has described his contribution: “I just did my best to depict what I thought the film should look like, I really liked the idea. I didn’t think the film would ever get made. My impression was it was too expensive. There wouldn’t be enough of an audience. It’s just too complicated. But George knew a lot of things that I didn’t know.” Aside from drawing concepts for the film’s set, the illustrator suggested that Vader should wear a breathing apparatus, thus defining the physical aspect of one of the best-known villains in film history.
5. Ben Burtt
If you have watched at least one film in the Star Wars series, it is impossible to not know sounds like the lightsalber hum or the breathing sound of Darth Vader. Burtt is also known for creating the voice of Wall-E and working on Indiana Jones films. Burtt has graduated with a major in physics and has pioneered modern sound design for science-fiction and fantasy-film genres. What Burtt has made differently from other artists was creating more natural sounds for futuristic devices. For instance, in order to create the lightsalber hum, he combined the sound of an idling film projector with feedback from a broken television set, and he created the heavy-breathing of Darth Vader by recording his own breathing in an old scuba regulator. Before him, science-fiction film would use electronic effects, and it was Burtt who brought in “found sounds” to create effects.
Of course, there are thousands of names behind the Star Wars series, and each person’s contribution was important. Their dedication and hard work made it possible to create one of the most enduring and popular franchises in the film world, attracting millions of fans worldwide. Some of these people are not with us anymore, but the results of their work will persist throughout the years.