As bizarre as it seems, in the ’80s, after he’d made the classics Eraserhead and The Elephant Man, but before he directed Dune, David Lynch was approached by George Lucas about directing Return of the Jedi.
Now, he wasn’t the only director known for strange, dark film to be approached about it. David Cronenberg was also queried about making a movie with ewoks, and also turned it down. As he told The Hollywood Reporter, “I got a phone call once asking if I was interested in directing one of the Star Wars sequels. And instead of saying ‘Oh my God, yes!’ I said, ‘Well, you know, I don’t really do other people’s material.’ Click. I don’t know how far it would have gone, but it ended there.”
Lynch didn’t get much further with the project, but he did take a meeting with Lucas. He tells the following story (see the whole thing in this YouTube video) about the experience:
He showed me these things called wookies, and now, y’know, this headache is getting stronger. And he showed me many animals and different things. Then he took me for a ride in his Ferrari for lunch. And George is kind of short, so his seat was way back and he was almost lying down in the car, and we were flying through this little town up in northern California. We went to a restaurant – and not that I don’t like salad, but all they had was salad. Then I got, like, almost a migraine headache and I could hardly wait to get home. And before I even got home I kind of crawled into a phone booth and phoned my agent and said, “There is no way – no way! – I can do this.”
Of course, that doesn’t stop fans from speculating about what a David Lynch. Not only did one Dario Romaniello Photoshop the above image, YouTube user C-SPIT put together a suitably strange and unnerving trailer for David Lynch’s Empire Strikes Back a few years ago. Today, on May 4th, it’s certainly worth revisiting.