Three Oscar-winning Hollywood directors turned down ‘Star Wars: The Phantom Menace’

George Lucas 'didn't necessarily want to direct' the prequel trilogy, says one director

Ron Howard has revealed that he and two other Oscar-winning directors were approached about 1999’s Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

During an interview on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Howard said that George Lucas “didn’t necessarily want to direct” his Star Wars prequel trilogy and had discussions with other film-makers about the job.

“He told me he had talked to Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg and me,” Howard recalled. “I was the third one he spoke to. 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 honour, but it would’ve been too daunting,” added Howard, whose films include A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code.

George Lucas went on to direct all three instalments of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, which were released between 1999 and 2005. The films are relatively unpopular with many fans of the franchise, including Simon Pegg, who recently said they were “like George Lucas killing his kid”.

Meanwhile, Lucas has admitted that he ultimately decided to leave the franchise that he created because “all you get is criticised”.