Hello, reddit! I'm Jonathan Rinzler, executive editor, author, and the official Star Wars “historian” over at Lucasfilm. With so much going on in the world of Star Wars, past, present, and future, I can't wait to answer your questions about the real-world history of the Star Wars.

I'm doing this AMA on behalf of the Star Wars: Force For Change, a new initiative that's giving one lucky fan and a guest the chance to win a walk-on role in the Star Wars: Episode VII. The best part is that every contribution benefits UNICEF's Innovation Labs and programs: www.omaze.com/starwars

I will be having some help typing today so that I can get to more of them in less time. So get your Star Wars questions ready and ask me anything!

Proof: https://twitter.com/jwrinzler/status/489468878418755584


Thank you for joining my reddit AMA. I’m sorry, I didn’t get to all of the questions. I’m going to be in San Diego for Comic-Con with Joe Johnston doing a panel on the original trilogy storyboards. I’ll also be signing the bind up version for the Star Wars comic book. So come say hi, and particularly, come see Joe Johnston, who’s as responsible as anyone for the greatness of the original saga. I’ll also be on a panel about a Ralph Mcquarrie story book with Tony DiTerlizzi.

And if you would like to be in Star Wars: Episode VII, enter Force For Change for your chance to win! www.omaze.com/starwars

Comments: 157 • Responses: 29  • Date: 

natulus42 karma

Hi Jonathan,

Did Han shoot first?

JonathanRinzler46 karma

Han solo shot first in my book. In the 1977 version, Han solo definitely shot first.

blackbetha22 karma

Jonathan, In your mind, does Boba Fett Escape the Sarlacc Pit?

JonathanRinzler43 karma

Yes, he does. I have been in meetings with George where he confirms that Fett survived. If it comes from George then it’s true!

mrshatnertoyou17 karma

The first six movies have really been the story of Anakin Skywalker, his rise, his seduction to the Dark side, and his ultimate redemption. How difficult do you think it will be to create new compelling Star Wars movies without the underlying story that has kept us interested for over 35 years?

JonathanRinzler16 karma

I’m excited for what J.J. Abrams and his cast and crew are going to do. I mean I’m sure they’re up to the task and I look forward to seeing the movie with everyone else.

quietasashadow13 karma

Where do you see Star Wars in 100 years?

JonathanRinzler19 karma

Thats a good question! By that time movie technology will be outdated. So it’ll probably be the people who are really interested in art and literature and culture and anthropology who will be studying Star Wars and why it had such a huge effect 100 years before. And people will write about it in that way. And for people who still want to watch old movie technology, it will be an art form.

ParrotSTD9 karma

Hi, Johnathan! Your job sounds amazing! My question is: What parts of the Star Wars expanded universe do you like the most? Which books, video games, etc.

My favourites are the Force Unleashed and Old Republic games, and New Jedi Order books! :D

JonathanRinzler6 karma

I was always partial to Rogue Leaders and Dark Forces. I like the comic book we did that was an adaption of George’s rough draft. Shameless self-promotion! The bind up version is actually available July 22nd.

yogacat118 karma

Jonathan, if you had your way, would we see Leia follow in her father's footsteps to become a Jedi, or her mother's and continue serving as a politician? What path do you think would be most interesting?

JonathanRinzler14 karma

Obviously I can’t say anything about the new movies. But, what I have always liked about Leia is that she was a strong female character. I hope that what people take from her character is that she is the leader of the Rebel Alliance, and that she was able to go head to head with Han Solo and everybody else.

muddyknees8 karma

Any chance of you doing a complete SW McQuarrie concept art collection book?

JonathanRinzler10 karma

Keep your fingers crossed! I had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with Ralph at the end of his life; he was a really sweet guy. I saw some of his non-Star Wars paintings and they were great. He was also a great craftsman. He built wonderful clocks. Everyone misses him.

GodsComic7 karma

Can I use a Light Saber to shave?

JonathanRinzler15 karma

Yes, you can. But you’ll notice that there's a disclaimer on all lightsabers: “Anything stupid you do is your own fault.”

robertraur6 karma

What character do you think deserves their own movie and why?

JonathanRinzler13 karma

Their own movie and why... I don’t know, that’s a hard question. It’s always such an ensemble thing. Star Wars is not really a solo; it is not like the Clint Eastwood ‘man with no name’ thing. It is always about a group of characters. I can’t think of one, it would have to be a group project. I like to see Star Wars movies that have a deep meaning. It doesn’t matter to me who the characters are, as long as there is something for the soul to grab on to. How is that for pretentious?

Dexter____6 karma

Hi Jonathan, in all of your research and digging through the archives, what was your most unexpected 'find?'

JonathanRinzler16 karma

The most unexpected was finding Charles Lippincott’s lost interviews. The interviews that he did in 1975 and 1976 for the making of the original Star Wars. That’s what formed the basis of the book; he had literally done hundreds of hours of interviews and they’d never been used. We thought they were lost but, in fact, the librarians at Skywalker Ranch knew exactly where they were and were just waiting for someone to ask for them.

scratch766 karma

how did it feel having a character in TRON named after you?

JonathanRinzler5 karma

It felt great. It was kind of surprising. I didn’t know what was going on until I happened to meet the director and he told me the story. Watching the movie was really truly hilarious.

zethi5 karma

Hi Jonathan! Big fan of all your Making Of books for the Wars, to call them a treasure trove of information would be an understatement.

There are so many specific nerdy questions I'd love to ask, but I'd rather just know your personal opinion on one thing that's always fascinated me: what would you say is the most significant event in the creation of the entire Star Wars franchise? So many of the early drafts, as your comic series has shown, seem so far removed from what we know Star Wars to be today. Was it a piece of concept art from McQuarrie or Johnston, the decision to stray away from making a straight-up Hidden Fortress or Flash Gordon remake, something that happened on set, or something I've never even considered that had the greatest seismic shift in making Star Wars the mainstream pop culture icon that it is today? I know it's probably hard to break it down into a singular answer, but the more specific the better!

Thanks for doing this AMA!

JonathanRinzler9 karma

George wanted to get the rights to Flash Gordon, but it was too expensive. At that point, he decided to do his own saga in which he would be free to do what he wanted. That was the beginning of Star Wars. The big ‘aha’ moment for George was as an adult when he watched the Flash series and realized they were awful, but he LOVED them as a kid. He asked, what if I could do something good, with state-of-the art effects and good storylines? How that would affect kids?

StreichersHQ3 karma

Real world history question - George was part of an elite group of filmmakers coming out of school, all of whom have gone on to have successful careers. Looking back at history, what influence do you think his peers had on the original Star Wars and the subsequent sequels? I know Spielberg helped direct part of Episode III, but were they involved in the originals at all?

JonathanRinzler7 karma

Well that’s a big question. George had so many influences that went into Star Wars. The one consistent person he turned to was Francis Ford Coppola. In fact, I got to sit with Coppola and George when he was directing animatics on Episode III. I got to see them working together--not that Coppola was directing or anything. I think George was really close with that group, which includes Walter Murch, Carroll Ballard, and quite a few others. I like to say the unsung hero of the Star Wars saga is Fred Roos who was the unofficial casting director and really pushed for Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. George met quite a few of the key people through Coppola.

Jimponolio3 karma


JonathanRinzler4 karma

What’s great is that Star Wars is going to sort of explode for a new generation. I’ve lost count now of how many generations it has been, but it was great to see it with the prequel trilogy. Kids who’ve grown up with the prequel trilogy prefer that. There are kids who have grown up with The Clone Wars, and now another generation is going to grow up with Episodes VII, VIII and IX.

ArcticTerrapin3 karma

Tell us something about the movies that you think not many people would know?

JonathanRinzler10 karma

Everybody thinks George negotiated for all of the licensing rights. Not true. We only got half of the rights for the first movie. Because he had the sequel rights he was able to renegotiate. In fact, the smart thing with George and the sequel rights was that nobody thought they were worth anything, but he knew they were.

theArnoldFans13 karma

I never really hear of SW characters exercising or lifting weights on their planets or on space stations. Have there ever been any stories of characters at the gyms pumping up? Do SW characters exercise and who in the SW galaxy is the most pumped up?

JonathanRinzler6 karma

Well what I would say is that in the real world, Mark Hamill should be given many kudos for all of the work he did to learn how to fight with a lightsaber. He was in fantastic shape and he was really proud of the fact that he did nearly all of his own stunts. He got an official union stuntman card in the UK which is a very hard thing to achieve. He’s kind of the big athlete of the Star Wars saga. Luke trains with Yoda after all. And for the prequel trilogy you have Nick Gillard who was the stunt coordinator who just did an amazing job with all the modern lightsaber fights and the different fighting styles.

two_off2 karma

Which concept artists consistently blow you away with their work?

JonathanRinzler4 karma

I think there are two concept artists that consistently blow me away. They would be Ralph Mcquarrie and Joe Johnston. They were the concept artists on the original trilogy. For the prequels I was blown away by Iain McCaig.

Unremoved2 karma


How do you feel your role will be effected, if at all, by the introduction of new Star Wars canon that may otherwise change some of the "established history" created through EU novels and games?

Good luck with the Force For Change. I've put some of my credits on the line for the chance at a walk-on role.

JonathanRinzler5 karma

I’ll say this; since I work in the realm of non-fiction about the canon movies, the new movies won’t affect it at all.

fpp20022 karma

Any chance of another Lucasfilm archives book, or a Lucas biography?

JonathanRinzler9 karma

I think fans can rest assured that there’s going to be a couple of really big archives books coming our way. In fact, we could say we just got some good news. I’m breaking that story here on reddit!

pietrociao2 karma

What's the best screenwriting advice you would give to a young writer?

JonathanRinzler8 karma

I would say watch a lot of movies. Read the screenplays apart from the movies. Read great literature, and stick to the classics. Remember that writing is rewriting.

For the original Star Wars, George did something that I don’t think many people do...when he rewrote he wouldn't just edit. He would take all of those ideas and completely rewrite a new draft until he had a story that worked for him.

erier20032 karma

Would you be interested in a cameo role in a future Star Wars movie? If so, what type of character would you like to play?

JonathanRinzler10 karma

Sure, I definitely would be interested. I have already been in THX 1138 and Episode III… I’m up for another one. And I want to be a Jedi.

In THX 1138 I was a clone. In Episode III I was a mourner at Senator Amidala’s funeral.

JonathanRinzler9 karma

You could have a cameo role in a future Star Wars movie! http://www.omaze.com/starwars

Frajer2 karma

who is your favorite character?

JonathanRinzler7 karma

Skywalker. Because he is the one who has compassion and sort of shows the way for everyone else in the saga.

Oh_he_steal1 karma

What's your opinion of The Clone Wars tv series?

JonathanRinzler10 karma

I think it’s great. I was honored to be included with the fourth season writers group and was happy to write a couple of episodes. Although, I was somewhat dismayed when George said I had to do two episodes with Jar Jar Binks.

yogacat111 karma

Hi Jonathan, Any funny moments you can share about having Mark, Carrie, and Harrison back on set together again? Is it true they only agreed to do it if all 3 came back together?

JonathanRinzler3 karma

A story that jumps to mind is Mark made tacos for Harrison back in the day (they would all have dinner together). I think it goes back to Fred Roos. When he pitched the three of them to George it was an ensemble. He knew they would have good chemistry. It was genius in the casting department.

BayAreaThrowaway21 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA. Are there any plans to go and write a new version of the Making of TPM, AOTC and ROTS? I loved those books as they are, but would love an even deeper dive into the events as well as same design style for my bookshelf

JonathanRinzler4 karma

Well that would be nice, but it's highly unlikely. I would like to put out an edition of the Episode III book that includes the last chapter which was only available online. That would be fun. But now with all the new movies, I think we’re going to be looking forward to the next decade or so.

AihMendoza1 karma

I think you have such a cool job and was pretty surprised to know a position like that actually exists! 1. What does your job specifically entail? (Responsibilities/roles in the company) 2. Star Wars is amazing and is one of the biggest classics in sci-fi film. Why do you think it gained such a following and have kept people loving it for so long? What do you think it brings to or represent in our culture? Thanks so much for doing this AMA! Amazing work with Force for Change, and I'm totally psyched for the next film :)

JonathanRinzler4 karma

Thank you very much! My actual job is as an editor. I edit all of the Dorling Kindersley books and I’ve edited Scholastic books and Abrams books. I help develop and edit them. The actual writing I do during mornings, nights and weekends. It is actually a position I created for myself. I met with the producer of the prequel trilogy and we were talking about what kind of “making of” book we could make. I was tired of books that only talked about the effects. I wanted to tell the whole “making of” story. I went to the very first art department meeting of Ep: 3. and Ep: 2 hadn’t even come out yet. I got to be the fly on the wall, and that is how it all began.

I’d say that each saga is slightly different. When the first saga started in 1977 most movies were really depressing. In general the heros either got killed, or their whole world was completely messed up by the end of the movie. Star Wars was a breath of fresh air. It was an old fashioned movie with good guys and bad guys. When Darth Vader was introduced people pegged him as the villain. George told an interesting story about how a good kid goes bad. That is not a story that most studios want to tell. It was uplifting because he was able to combine all the elements of story-telling in such a way that it feels good, even though it is bad.

George was also tapping into this need to have fun at the movies, and we had kind of forgotten that. The prequel trilogy was able to pull together all of the visual effects he wanted to do on the original but wasn’t able to. He could do whatever he wanted Thanks to technology, the production designer was king again. Even if it looked fake, people didn’t know it looked fake.

EB30311 karma

As someone who has never watched any Star Wars film, because I'm not really interested in Fantasy and Sci-Fi, why should I watch Star Wars?

JonathanRinzler7 karma

Star Wars is in the top 10 greatest films ever made. The parts are so well harmonized, like a symphony, and you can enjoy it on so many levels. It is such a wonderful thing to see all of the acting and stories and music and sound come together. And you can always go back and find so many other great reasons why you should watch it.

Isaacmo0 karma

Which of the star wars films do you enjoy the most?

JonathanRinzler5 karma

I personally enjoyed the 1977 Star Wars because it was the one that broke all the new ground and blew everybody’s mind. I went to a sneak preview of the film and apparently George Lucas was there!