So, What's the Deal with Leia's Hair?

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George Lucas never meant to become a filmmaker. As a teen, he dreamed of becoming an anthropologist and later an illustrator, which his father, the owner of a stationery store, called "not a proper occupation." But Lucas is sure that the Force was always with him. "I believe that even if I had become an anthropologist, I still would've started making movies and ended up right where I am now," he says. "This path has been too strongly etched, and it's too winding." While he has been wandering, we've been wondering:

Q: You're only now making the beginning of the Star Wars series. Why didn't you start with the beginning in 1977, instead of with Episode IV?

A: Originally when I wrote Star Wars, it was meant to be one episode of a Saturday-matinee serial and you came in in the middle of it. I wrote a couple of screenplays, and they got very big, so I took the first act and made a movie out of that, but I swore to make the rest of the movie in three parts. In order to do that, I had to write a back story, so I said maybe I'll do the prequels.

Q: You started out as an avant-garde director. How did you end up making movies for 12-year-olds?

A: American Graffiti got so successful, I thought, Gee, making films for younger people actually is not a bad thing. I've always been very curious about culture, how a society develops its own equilibrium. I realized we were out of equilibrium at some point. We had reached a period in terms of our society of not having a mythology, a code that you pass down to the next generation. Friendship is valuable, honor is valuable. There wasn't a movie genre like that aimed at younger people, the 12-year-olds coming of age.

Q: The morals we learn from Darth Vader's life—about letting go and making amends—are dominant themes in 12-step programs. Did you ever go through recovery for drugs or alcohol?

A: I never did drugs. Drinking was never a problem. But I've done a lot of research, and those [morals] are very valid. The interesting thing about the 12 steps is that they work, and not just for addictive people. I'm very interested in psychology. I dabble in that stuff with my friends. I spend most of my fun time arguing, pontificating, discussing those things.

Q: What religion are you?

A: I was raised Methodist. Now let's say I'm spiritual. It's Marin County. We're all Buddhists up here.

Q: Do you read reviews?

A: I gave up reading reviews a long time ago. It's become a medium that is more like gossip.

Q: Do you read about Star Wars on the Internet?

A: When I was working on Phantom Menace, I saw a lot of the Internet stuff. I lasted about six weeks.

Q: Why do the women in your movies have such crazy hairdos?

A: In the 1977 film, I was working very hard to create something different that wasn't fashion, so I went with a kind of Southwestern Pancho Villa woman revolutionary look, which is what that is. The buns are basically from turn-of-the-century Mexico. Then it took such hits and became such a thing. In the new trilogy, the same thing applies, to try and do something timeless. I'm just basically having a good time.