George Lucas Defends “Star Wars” from Criticisms That 'It's All White Men': 'Most of the People Are Aliens!'

George Lucas will receive an honorary Palme d'Or at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival's closing ceremony on Saturday, May 25

<p>Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu via Getty</p> George Lucas on May 24, 2024

Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu via Getty

George Lucas on May 24, 2024

George Lucas is addressing some criticism he has received for Star Wars over the years.

On Friday, May 24, Lucas — who celebrated his 80th birthday on May 14 — appeared at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival ahead of his honorary Palme d'Or ceremony on May 25. During a conversation at the festival, the filmmaking icon spoke to how some critics of his massively successful space opera franchise have pointed out a perceived lack of diversity in the first six Star Wars films, which Lucas either directed or produced himself.

“They would say, ‘It’s all white men.' I'd say, it's not. Most of the people are aliens," he said. "And the idea is you’re supposed to accept people for what they are, whether they’re big and furry or whether they’re green and whatever — the idea is all people are equal.”

Lucas pointed out that in his Star Wars movies, the only characters ever shown on the wrong side of discrimination are robots and droids. “And that was a way of saying, people are always discriminating against something, and sooner or later, that’s what’s going to happen,” he added. “I mean, we’re already starting with AI, saying, ‘Well, we can’t trust those robots.' ”

The filmmaker said that he never shied from hiring actors of color for his Star Wars projects, between Billy Dee Williams' role as Lando Calrissian in the original trilogy and Samuel L. Jackson's Jedi character Mace Windu in the 2000s-era prequel movies. 

Related: George Lucas' 4 Children: All About Amanda, Katie, Jett and Everest

<p>Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu via Getty</p> George Lucas on May 24, 2024

Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu via Getty

George Lucas on May 24, 2024

He even pointed out that each trilogy features strong women leads for protagonists, between Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia and Natalie Portman's Padme Amidala. “Who do you think the heroes are in these stories? What do you think Princess Leia was? She’s the head of the rebellion," Lucas said. "She’s the one that’s taking this young kid who doesn’t know anything and this boisterous, I-know-everything guy who can’t do anything and trying to save the rebellion with these clowns."

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Lucas remains best known for creating Star Wars and shepherding the franchise from its first entry, 1977's A New Hope, until he sold his company Lucasfilm and the rights to Star Wars to Disney in 2012. He is also credited with creating and producing the Indiana Jones film series, as well as directing films like 1973's American Graffiti.

Related: Who Is George Lucas' Wife? All About Mellody Hobson

<p>Kristy Sparow/Getty</p> George Lucas on May 24, 2024

Kristy Sparow/Getty

George Lucas on May 24, 2024

Lucas has been married to his wife Mellody Hobson since June 2013; the couple share one daughter, 10-year-old Everest. Lucas also shares daughter Amanda Lucas, 42, with his ex-wife Marcia Lou Griffin; after their 1983 divorce, he also adopted daughter Katie, 36, and son Jett, 31, as a single parent.

The Star Wars creator will receive his honorary Palm d'Or at Cannes' closing ceremony on May 25.

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