David Cronenberg has enjoyed a remarkable career — one which is being celebrated at this year’s Beyond Fest in Los Angeles — but it is hard to imagine the director of Videodrome and the remake of The Fly as a franchise filmmaker. Back in the early ’80s, however, the Canadian auteur was approached about overseeing a little film called Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Cronenberg’s response to this seemingly plum gig? Thanks, but no thanks.
“I still recall getting a phone call,” Cronenberg told EW earlier this week. “Somebody said that they were from, I guess it was Lucasfilm, and asked me if I was interested in — at that point it was called Revenge of the Jedi, actually, until somebody pointed out that it was against Jedi philosophy to think in terms of revenge. But, anyway, I was asked if I would be interested in considering that, and meeting with everybody, and I said, with the arrogance of youth — relative youth, anyway — I said, ‘Well, I’m not used to doing other people’s material.’ And there was like a stunned silence and then ‘Click’ — hang up. Basically, that was as close as I came to that.”
Return of the Jedi would eventually be directed by Richard Marquand. Cronenberg reveals that he has spent next to no time wondering what his version of the movie might have been like.
“No, not really, because, in a way that’s like doing one episode in a well-established TV series,” says the director. “The casting is fixed of the main characters — the look of it, the tone of it, people’s expectations for it, are all fixed. You are not involved in the creating of that. And therefore you’re a little bit more like a traffic cop than you are like, for me, what a creative director can be. So that’s why it wouldn’t have interested me, really. I mean, you have Alfonso Cuarón doing a Harry Potter episode, and he did his best to try to make it stand out from the others, but basically, it’s a Harry Potter episode. And if you didn’t know that Alfonso directed it, you wouldn’t be able to tell. So, these are not attractive options for me. I mean, there’s the lure of money, and having a big budget, and having excitement around the film you’re making — but on the deep creative level, it would for me be frustrating, I think. Just frustrating.”
So, the folks at Marvel Studios should save themselves the cost of a phone call to Canada?
“They have done that so far!”
Learn more about Beyond Fest at the event’s official website.