The Brief Conversation That Launched John Williams’ Long Star Wars Career

J.W. Rinzler’s indespensible “The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film” reveals how Lucas prevented studio executives at 20th Century Fox from meddling with his vision for the original “Star Wars.” As the film’s head of marketing and merchandising, Charles Lippincott, explained, Lucas worked out of an office at Universal “because he believed politically, and he was right, that you don’t want to be on the same lot as the studio, because they can invade your space and give you a hard time.” That wouldn’t fly in the modern world of virtual office spaces, but in 1975, Lucas’s approach succeeded like gangbusters and gave him the space he needed to realize a galaxy far, far away as he saw fit.

That wasn’t the only benefit, either. Spielberg, who had been pals with Lucas and entranced by his work since seeing his 1967 student film “Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB” (the basis for Lucas’ 1971 dystopian feature directorial debut, “THX 1138”), was also neck-high into post-production on “Jaws” on the Universal lot at that point. Naturally, the two would talk about what they were up to.

With music having been instrumental (no pun intended) to Lucas’ second feature, 1973’s “American Graffiti,” he was already giving serious thought to the sound of “Star Wars.” But where the former had pioneered the art of the zeitgeist jukebox soundtrack, Lucas wanted something more timeless and romantic for the latter, as befitting a tale set “a long time ago.” Having worked with Williams twice by then, Spielberg knew just the chap for the job. “Steven said, ‘I worked with this guy and he’s great!'” Lucas recalled. 

That was all it took. Shortly after, Spielberg arranged for Lucas and Williams to meet, and history handled the rest.

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