The year in 1972. An 18-year-old Ron Howard is starring in George Lucas’ second film American Graffiti. Though Howard was already known for The Andy Griffith Show, Lucas is just starting out, with only THX 1138 under his belt.
It turns out, way back in 1972, five years before the release of the first Star Wars, Lucas discussed Star Wars with Howard, over forty years before the latter would himself get to direct a Star Wars film in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Howard told Entertainment Weekly about his first conversations with Lucas:
“I remember standing in front of Mel’s Diner doing American Graffiti, about midway through our shoot, and George Lucas didn’t ever say much, and he was so overwhelmed by that project, and we were shooting nights, and everybody was sleepy. He was not a chatty guy. But I was having a great experience working on it. He and I had already made a connection because I had been accepted to USC Film School, which is George’s alma mater, and I spent a lot of time talking to him about THX 1138 and movies, and where they were going, and so forth.”
Their conversations about what Lucas was cooking up continued throughout the shoot when Howard asked the director what he was thinking of doing as his next film:
“’Yeah, I want to do a big science fiction movie. I’m working on a script.’ And I said, ‘Well, what is it?’ And he said, ‘Oh, it’s a little bit like Flash Gordon, but it’s not Flash Gordon, but I liked those movies when I was a kid and those comics and things.’
“He said, ‘But, you know, it has, like, the grandeur of 2001, and the realism of those special effects that Kubrick created.’ And then he said, ‘But maybe fast.’”
“And that was about all he said about it, you know? So it didn’t leave me with a deep understanding of what he wanted to go for until I happened to see it. And there it was. And it was kind of mind-blowing.”
There you have it actors, talk to an up-and-coming director about their future projects, and you may end up directing a film in one of the most lucrative franchises of all time! Or, something like that. Especially considering this conversation had no influence on Howard’s selection as replacement director for Solo, and it wasn’t even Lucas who gave him the job…