While George Lucas had the spotlight at today’s Tribeca Talk: George Lucas and Stephen Colbert, it was the future Late Show host who came away with spades in the conversation. Clearly on display were the comedian’s interview chops sans his Colbert Report conservative alter ego. As an interviewer, Colbert never overshadowed his guest, he but touted a plethora of hysterical, snappy responses to Lucas’ long-winded storytelling about his life, which canvassed everything from his wannabe race car driver days to rebellious, anti-studio filmmaker.
At the onset, Colbert set the tone by sarcastically saying: “Oh, George Lucas, I’m gonna tear you a new one! How dare you entertain me consistently since I was 13 years old!”
Colbert’s interview style came across as smart and relaxed — able to ask a quick question, get out and allow Lucas to linger. He didn’t drill Lucas in Charlie Rose fashion, and of course, Colbert didn’t throw the Star Wars filmmaker off guard with pointed, abstract questions a la Barbara Walters.
And while Lucas wasn’t planning to discuss anything at length about Star Wars: The Force Awakens (he claims to be in the dark on the whole production), Colbert wasn’t dropping any details about his takeover of CBS’ Late Show on September 8. When an audience member asked whether the late-night host would venture into filmmaking a la Jon Stewart, Colbert promptly responded, “I’m up here for George. I do not wish to become a film director, but thank you for asking me that question.”
But then in awkward moment, Lucas seemed to get his late-night shows mixed up, not fully aware that Colbert’s new Late Show gig was the ultimate get.
Said Lucas, “Don’t you think the perfect choice to replace that Jon Stewart fella would have been you? And now you’re working at Late Show where nobody sees you. Who stays up past 1 AM? Wouldn’t you say I’m taking over the crown?”
To which Colbert hysterically responded, “Ummm…”
Then Colbert saved Lucas’ face, “I love it when people ask ‘Why are you going into late night?’ I was on at 11:30 PM, I’m moving to 11:35 PM. I’ll have an extra cup of coffee to stay up an extra five minutes.” Then giving props to controversial Daily Show replacement Trevor Noah, Colbert said: “He is a very funny guy. I don’t want to be the guy who takes over for Jon Stewart. I’ve worked with him, and my memories of him is that he’s the keenest, most intelligent, most beautifully deconstructive mind — the clearest thinker I ever worked for. I would never get underneath his shadow. Someone else who doesn’t love him as much might have a better time on that show than I ever would.”
Lucas has been a longtime fan of Colbert’s. Not only did he appear on the December 18 finale of The Colbert Report to sing “We’ll Meet Again” with a number of celebs, but Colbert told the crowd today about how Lucas specifically asked to meet him at a Time magazine dinner years ago.
Other hysterical Colbert retorts during today’s talk:
–Lucas spoke about how he always avoided the glitzy party scene in Hollywood. Said the filmmaker,”People thought I was a recluse, that I was Howard Hughes-like.” To which Colbert quipped, “And you saved your own urine in jars.”
–Colbert asked Lucas if he would be attending Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “Are you dressing up like your favorite character? Because I’m going as George Lucas!”
–A third of the way into the conversation, Lucas let out a huge sneeze, off which Colbert said, “May the Force be with you.” Soon after Lucas began to cough. Colbert said, “Have some water — it’s very smart!”
–Lucas remembered the time when Francis Ford Coppola shot off a telegram to the new owners of Warner Bros. studio, asserting that American Zoetrope was in the middle of making a movie “and we needed to go ahead with the film,” said Lucas. “He was essentially telling them to shit or get off the pot.” Just to make sure he heard Lucas correctly, Colbert said, “So he sent a telegram that said, ‘Shit or get off the pot. Stop’?”
–Lucas says he’s notorious for wooden dialogue in his movies. “It’s not wooden, it’s hand-carved dialogue,” said Colbert.
–The Star Wars filmmaker rounded up his discussion by explaining how he secured sequel rights for the franchise from 20th Century Fox. “That’s how I got to be rich!” beamed Lucas. Colbert’s response: “By God, I’m gonna write that down.”