George Lucas thrills fans, explains R2D2 difficulties

George Lucas thrilled lucky fans Saturday during a live, on-stage interview on topics ranging from the origins of Darth Vader's name to home-made droids.

By , SPACE.com Staff Writer

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    On location in the Tunisian desert, Director George Lucas directs a protocol droid in this 2002 photo provided by LucasFilm LTD.

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"Star Wars" creator George Lucas thrilled lucky fans Saturday during a live, on-stage interview on topics ranging from the origins of Darth Vader's name to home-made droids.

The man behind the hugely popular "Star Wars" film franchise appeared on-stage this morning before approximately 2,600 fans here at the Star Wars Celebration V convention in the Orange County Convention Center. The interview, appropriately titled "The Main Event," was moderated by TV comedian Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central.

The hour-long candid conversation drew attendees from all over the world. Devoted fans even camped out at the convention center overnight for the chance to see Lucas in the flesh.

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IN PICTURES: 'Star Wars' droids

In addition to the audience at the Chapin Theater, the interview was also simulcast live in six different locations throughout the convention center. In total, over 7,400 had the opportunity to experience the fan event.

At one point, Stewart and Lucas took a look at the enduring "Star Wars" legacy that has been a fixture in popular culture for more than 30 years. [Graphic: Light Sabers in Fact and Fiction]

"I make movies for fans," Lucas said. "I make movies for people who like to go to the movies. And it's great to be appreciated."

'Star Wars' secrets, homemade droids

Lucas thanked the fans for their continued loyalty, and mused about what it feels like to be a part of the Star Wars Celebration experience.

In particular, he commented on the "tragedy" of seeing such sophisticated homemade droids being driven around the convention center, after he had spent years struggling to get R2-D2 to properly function in front of the camera.

"It's one of the great ironies of life," Lucas said. "I spent eight years trying to get R2 to work. Our droids were so inadequate that we had to take fiberglass molds, put them on wheels and hold them up with string."

Lucas also revealed the inspirations behind some of the names featured in the series. The furry Ewok hunters of Endor were named after a band of Native Americans, called Miwok, who live near Lucas' Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, Calif.

The name "Darth Vader" is a variation of the phrase "dark father" in Dutch, Lucas said. And the character Dexter Jettster from "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," was named after Lucas's son, Jett.

The Force Revealed

Lucas went on to describe how his fascination with comparative mythology shaped his idea of "the Force."

"I went through all the religions and took out the commonality in them," Lucas said. "The Force is that commonality. So, the force is all religion."

He also spoke about the main themes from the series, including love, greed, power and corruption.

And for the young fans in attendance, Lucas imparted advice for those who strive to follow in his footsteps in the movie business.

"Go to school, go to college, go to film school," Lucas said. "Do well in school, and be mindlessly persistent."

When Stewart asked the legendary filmmaker about the impact of "Star Wars" throughout the world, Lucas expressed his gratitude, but set his sights even higher. He imagined the day when a human being first sets foot on the surface of Mars.

On that day, Lucas said, he hopes the first words are: "I've wanted to do that ever since I saw 'Star Wars'."

IN PICTURES: 'Star Wars' droids

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