The Kennedy Center

George Lucas


George Lucas' devotion to timeless storytelling and cutting-edge innovation has resulted in some of the most successful and beloved films of all time. In 1971, Lucas transformed an award-winning student film into his first feature, THX-1138. Lucas' second feature film, the low-budget American Graffiti (1973), became the most successful film of its time. Pushing the boundaries of storytelling, American Graffiti was the first film of its kind to tell multiple stories through interweaving narratives backed by a soundtrack of contemporary music.

But it was Lucas' third film, 1977's Star Wars that changed everything, breaking all box-office records and setting new standards for sophistication in film visuals and sound. The film garnered eight Academy Awards(r), and inspired a generation of young people to follow their imagination and dreams. The success of Star Wars allowed Lucas to remain independent and continue operating in Marin County, California.

Lucas has been the storywriter and executive producer of a series of box-office hits beginning with the continuation of the Star Wars Saga: The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and Return of the Jedi in 1983. In 1981, he created the classic adventurer Indiana Jones, and co-wrote and executive-produced the successful series consisting of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), a franchise that has won eight Academy Awards(r). Later, a television series, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, was honored with 12 Emmy Awards.

Lucas has also served as executive producer on such widely varied films as Willow, which was based on his original story and directed by Ron Howard; and Tucker:  The Man And His Dream, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. As executive producer, Lucas's films also include Akira Kurosawa's Kagemusha (1980) and Labyrinth (1986) among others.  Lucas released and served as executive producer on Red Tails (2012), a fictional story inspired by the historic and heroic exploits of America's first all black aerial combat unit. In addition, he executive produced Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the inaugural project from Lucasfilm Animation. 

Lucas pioneered the development of digital cinema in multiple areas: editing, sound, scanning, projection, and camera technology. He returned to directing in 1999 with Star Wars Saga: Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, the year's biggest box-office hit, which was also the first major live-action film to be projected digitally.  Three years later, Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones broke new ground as the first major movie shot using entirely digital media. In 2005, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith was the top-grossing film that year worldwide. 

As Lucas continued making movies, he also furthered the development of Lucasfilm Ltd. into one of the world's leading entertainment companies for motion picture and television production, which included Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound; LucasArts; Lucas Licensing, Lucas Online, and Lucasfilm Animation.  In 2012, Lucas retired from corporate life. Lucasfilm Ltd. was acquired by the Walt Disney Company, with Lucas' longtime collaborator Kathleen Kennedy named as his successor.

Over the years, Lucas has received some of the entertainment industry's highest honors, including the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Visual Effects Society.  He also received an honorary doctorate in fine arts from the USC School of Cinematic Arts and the prestigious NAACP Vanguard Award, given to the person whose groundbreaking work increases understanding and awareness of racial and social issues. 

Lucas was honored in 2004 with the nation's highest award for technological achievement, the National Medal of Technology, presented by the President of the United States for 30 years of innovation at Industrial Light & Magic. In 2013, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts, the highest award presented to artists and patrons of the arts by the United States Government, bestowed upon him by the President in recognition of lifetime achievement in the creation and production of the arts in the United States.

Lucas has also taken a philanthropic leadership role in applying his technical and storytelling expertise to the classroom, engaging students through interactive multimedia environments. In 1991, he founded the George Lucas Educational Foundation to pursue and promote best practices in education-highlighting proven strategies, tools, and resources for creating lifelong learners.  He also serves on the board of the Film Foundation and is a member of the USC School of Cinematic Arts Advisory Board. 

Most recently, Lucas announced plans to build the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which will emphasize illustrative, digital, cinematic, and animation art as an avenue for the exploration of the great storytelling history, populist works, and artistic innovation of the past 150 years.
George Lucas