The James Clayton Column: Inside George Lucas’ garage

As George Lucas announces his retirement, James wonders just what the Star Wars creator will be getting up to in his California garage…

Now that the all-black fighter pilot flick Red Tails has been released worldwide, George Lucas can finally get out of the game. He’s produced his Tuskegee Airmen passion project and put it out in cinemas, finished tinkering with Star Wars films and a few years ago gave Indy another adventure in Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. Now, he claims, his plan is retirement.

Says the bearded Saga-Father: “I’m moving away from the company, I’m moving away from all my businesses, I’m finishing all my little obligations and I’m going to retire out to my garage with my saw and hammer and build little hobby movies.” (Source: Empire magazine)

Of course, Lucas’ announcement that he’s stepping away from Lucasfilm to become a gentleman of leisure may be an elaborate lie. He might just be playing Jedi mind tricks on fanboys, or it might be a Trojan horse distraction tactic before he unveils the truth that he’s been the Sith Emperor all along, waiting until his Death Star was fully operational before coming out in the open.

Contrarily, his promise could turn out to be false not because of any ill intent but because his insatiable nature and the actions of others will suck him back into the day-to-day workings of Lucasfilm. I can picture Lucas as being a little like Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III (“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”) with Industrial Light and Magic encroaching on his old age rather than mafia violence.

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There’s a high probability that Lucas will be bored after a few months of whole days of nothing but baseball on TV and one-sided conversations with his dog. At that point he’ll be eager to answer the phone and return to the office to advise on Star Wars spin-offs or write the Indiana Jones V script that sends everyone’s favourite archaeologist to the Moon to battle the space Nazis who’ve cloned Shia LaBeouf.

My doubts about Lucas’ wellbeing and the spurious notion that he’s going to live a California-styled One Foot In The Grave existence are undone, however, when I reread his statement. The visionary filmmaker will undoubtedly keep himself busy with his hobbies and new projects which he’s informed us will involve spending time in his garage with his saw and hammer.

This statement piques my interest, partly because I thought movies were made with cameras and actors rather than saws and hammers. I’m now wondering what Curious George is going to be getting up to in his garage on his retirement agenda, at least until somebody makes the inevitable buddy movie where his old best friend Steven drags him back into the game for “one last job” (namely, ‘Indiana Jones and the Nazis on the Moon’).

Sitting in meditation and channelling the Force through my mind’s eye, I receive a range of visions that detail Lucas’ current-and-upcoming garage-based activity. Because the galaxy wants and needs to know about these things, I’ve listed the following possible answers to the crucial enigma: “just what is going on in George Lucas’ garage?”

He’s fixing up muscle cars

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (1960s California) young George liked cruising and hot rod racing, and he channelled that passion into his second feature, American Graffiti. Retirement affords him the time and space to revisit his wild youth and reacquaint himself with competitive automobile action. Lucas is, thus, applying his saw and hammer to the maintenance of a customised high-speed motor vehicle so he can race for pinks and live the type of dream immortalised in flicks like Two-Lane Blacktop. He will inevitably crash, burn then throw a sulk and upgrade to a podracer in order to secure the fortune and glory that eludes him.

He’s building a Death Star

The ultimate weapon in the galaxy will be rebuilt in Lucas’ expansive garage space, this time designed to be impenetrable and updated to include more mod cons (free wi-fi, a 24-hour gym, an IMAX cinema, a gallery of consciousness-expanding crystal alien skulls, etc). Having constructed it from scratch using the original blueprints, the Saga-Father will then decide whether to use it to rule the galaxy or hire it out to sci-fi conventions and private clients for birthday parties, weddings and bah mitzvahs.

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He’s conducting wicked torture sessions

Undoubtedly taking tips from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and a wide array of nasty schlock horror flicks, Lucas has converted his garage into a fully-furnished torture palace with a Sarlacc pit for the disposal of dismembered bodies when he’s done. He’s going to spend his retirement conducting experiments in pain and cutting up kidnapped victims while listening to Enya. Lucas is filming it all of course – these would be his “little hobby movies” made with hammers and a saw.

He’s cooking up drugs

Like Walter White, the chemistry teacher with a sideline in crystal meth manufacture in TV’s Breaking Bad, Lucas is conducting a covert narcotics operation in secret. His garage is both a cannabis factory and a facility in which he produces an updated version of the mind-altering drug similar to the opiates that kept the masses subdued in THX 1138. Next time you’re on the street and some pusher offers you some primo-grade ‘George’, you’ll know where it’s come from. (er, we don’t really think you’re cooking up drugs, George. Call the lawyers off. Ta.)

He’s brewing his own moonshine

Like Patton Oswalt’s character in Young Adult, Lucas lurks in a garage lair decorated with modified Star Wars action figures and distillery equipment which he uses to make his own homemade alcoholic rocket fuel. I suggest you politely decline if Juicer George offers you a sample of his ‘Jedi Knight Lightning’ – the Force is way, way, way too strong with that one (97% proof).

He’s jamming with his garage band

Picking up his old six-string and hooking up to jam with his old buddy Stevie, Lucas is looking to live the rock ‘n’ roll dream and that fantasy always begins banging and thrashing in the garage. After many frustrating rehearsals and jams where they struggle through Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes covers, the band will inevitably split over ‘creative differences’ (Steven wants to write some songs about war whereas Lucas only wants to sing about aliens).

Of course, this garage retirement is just a phase and Lucas is likely to get over it. Mark my words – give him a bit of time and he’ll be back in the wider world again, probably with an idea for a new Star Wars spin-off. ‘Episode VII: Jedi Knight Lightning’ anyone?

You can read James’ last column here.

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James Clayton has no X-Wing fighters, torture instruments or guitar gods hidden in his garage and so is considering retiring so he can rectify this sad state of affairs. You can see all his links here or follow him on Twitter.