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Steven Spielberg actually turned down Star Wars for one great reason

We could have seen Steven Spielberg direct these Star Wars movies, but the Jaws filmmaker had a great reason for turning down the opportunity when asked.

Steven Spielberg in front of the Star Wars: The Phantom Menace poster

Fans are well aware, for better or for worse, who ended up directing the Star Wars prequels. It was the same filmmaker who helmed the very first Star Wars, George Lucas.

But there was a time when Lucas didn’t want to make new movies in the franchise himself, and he asked some of the best directors of all time to take the reins; three, in fact.

One of them was Steven Spielberg, who by the late 90s had already directed one of the best science-fiction movies ever, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Spielberg turned down the opportunity, as did the other contenders, all for the same reason.

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Ron Howard, one of the men up for the task, said on the Happy Sad Confused podcast Lucas “didn’t necessarily want to direct them. He told me he had talked to Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg, and me.”

“I was the third one he spoke to,” Howard explains. “They all said the same thing: ‘George, you should do it’. I don’t think anybody wanted to follow up that act at the time. It was an honor, but it would’ve been too daunting.”

This is understandable. Many look back on the prequel trilogy without much fondness now, but at the time they were a massive prospect for any filmmaker and would be a scary task. Fans had waited over a decade to be invited back into that fictional universe, it’s no wonder even the most qualified people saw the challenge it would have been.

Who knows, though, had things gone differently we could have sat here adding one of the prequels to our best Steven Spielberg movies list. We’ll never know. As for the future of the franchise, however, we’re looking forward to the Ahsoka release date, keeping an eye on the ever-evolving best way to watch the Star Wars movies in order, and waiting with bated breath to hear Dave Filoni’s pick for the greatest Jedi.

For something away from the lightsabers and force though, we’ve got a list of the 101 best movies of all time.