George Lucas got his head stuck in the mechanical shark used in Jaws

George Lucas got his head stuck in the mechanical shark form Jaws

Everyone’s done something embarrassing in a professional setting. It’s just a fact of life. Maybe you’ve just told an important contact you “love them” at the end of a phone call? Perhaps you spelt someone’s name wrong in an email? Possibly you spilt a drink all over your laptop and lost a vital file? It’s possible you did all three in a day that still haunts your nights whenever you try and sleep. Who knows?

I think we can all agree, though, that all of those examples (which may or may not have happened to someone) aren’t as embarrassing as getting your head trapped in a mechanical shark. This is exactly what happened to Star Wars creator George Lucas when he visited the set of his mate Steven Spielberg’s Jaws.

Apparently, Lucas was on the set of Jaws (one of the best movies ever) during pre-production, along with Martin Scorsese and John Milius, when he spied “Bruce the Shark”. Being a bit of a techy – he founded the VFX company Industrial Light and Magic – Lucas couldn’t resist poking his head in the shark’s mouth to see how the clockwork fish worked.

As Lucas stuck his head into the jaws of the machine, Spielberg and his mates thought it would be funny to close the shark’s mouth, trapping Lucas’s head in the beast’s mouth. Unfortunately, what started as a funny joke became a little more serious when the shark malfunctioned, and they couldn’t get Lucas out of its mouth.

Eventually, they managed to free Lucas, and the men allegedly fled the scene, worrying they’d broken a very expensive prop. Unfortunately, the shark’s technical hiccup turned out to be quite prophetic.

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Spielberg infamously had a nightmare with the animatronic sharks, which really didn’t like getting wet, which is a bit of a problem when you’re making a movie out at sea. Spielberg’s frustration with the shark is allegedly what led to him using it very sparingly instead of building up the suspense by keeping it obscured for the majority of the movie. Still, it worked out in the end, he made one of the best thriller movies ever.

It’s worth noting that the story of Lucas getting stuck in the shark is purely anecdotal, and none of the men involved have commented on it publicly. It’s listed in IMDb trivia for the movie, which, while a fun resource, is as reliable as a mechanical shark dropped in water, so take this whole story with a pinch of sea salt.

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Tom Percival

Editor

Updated: Sep 17, 2021


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