George Lucas was recognized for his contribution to American culture through the arts on Sunday night at the Kennedy Center Honors celebration – but with a bit of a Star Wars twist.
As Lucas, 71, was being feted, the crowd was asked to welcome Star Wars star Carrie Fisher to the stage. But in true Star Wars fashion, instead of Fisher, one of Lucas’ most beloved creations, R2-D2, took the stage to project her image.
“I wanted to be there to help celebrate your Kennedy Center honor in person, but hey, since you invented video voicemail, I don’t have to be,” Fisher joked.
Keep up with all the latest Star Wars news by subscribing to our newsletter. Head here for more details.
Fellow filmmaker and movie pioneer Steven Spielberg paid tribute to Lucas for the technological impact he’s had on film, and his dedication to profound storytelling.
“He’s a pathfinder and a pioneer like Edison and Bell and Tesla and Jobs,” said Spielberg. “George Lucas’ Star Wars absolutely changed films forever.”
President Barack Obama, who arrived late to the ceremony due to his Oval Office address regarding terrorism, also took the stage to praise Lucas for the Star Wars legacy, which he believes will continue to live for the generations to come.
“Think about how many children have been raised, at least in part, by George Lucas,” he began. “Think about how many young people searching for their place in the universe have thought to themselves, ‘If a kid from Tatooine moisture farm can go from bulls-eyeing womp rats in his T-16 to saving the galaxy, then maybe I can be something special too?’
“George, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but they might even make a brand-new Star Wars movie soon. It’s very low-key, it’s not getting a lot of promotion,” Obama joked. “But it’s also pretty remarkable that nearly 40 years after the first Star Destroyer crawled across the screen, we are still obsessed with George’s vision of a galaxy far, far away. And we’ll be raising our children on his stories for a long, long time to come.”
Lucas was honored alongside Carole King, Seji Ozawa, Cicely Tyson, and Rita Moreno at the ceremony.
The next installment of the Star Wars franchise, The Force Awakens, will mark the first made without Lucas’ involvement, but is expected to be one of the highest-grossing films of all time.
Lucas’ lack of involvement certainly doesn’t mean The Force isn’t with him anymore. According to Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, Lucas will not only attend the premiere of The Force Awakens in Los Angeles and London, but he joins a small, exclusive circle of people who have seen the movie.
“He really liked it,” Kennedy told The Hollywood Reporter.
RELATED: J.J. Abrams decodes that Star Wars: The Force Awakens cast photo
Star Wars: The Force Awakens officially hits theaters Dec. 18.