Jon Stewart and George Lucas, Together Again

Jon Stewart is clearly a bigger Star Wars fan than he lets on, which made more than a couple of people scratch their heads, wondering why he was asked to interview George Lucas on stage at the official celebration of the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back at Star Wars Celebration V in Orlando, Florida. The convention has been going on for the last two days, but today's discussion between Star Wars creator George Lucas and political comedian Jon Stewart was entertaining and hilarious, and needs to end up on a DVD somewhere. Stewart was even honored by Lucas with a one-of-a-kind action figure from "planet Stewjon." It was a figure of Stewart (with interchangeable heads) dressed as a Stromtrooper in vintage packaging.

The biggest news was that the complete Star Wars saga will be on Blu-ray next year. No date was mentioned, but it will definitely be in 2011. Lucas mentioned that he wants to make it special, but not the stuff we've seen before. It was at that point that Stewart brought Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) to the stage, where he introduced a rare clip that Star Wars fans like myself weren't even confident had been filmed.

"This is Luke's original introduction in Return of the Jedi," Hamill said.

The scene opened moments after Vader finished his conversation with Moff Jerjerrod on the first Death Star. He gets into an elevator and goes to his hyperbaric chamber, the entire time calling out Luke's name with the force, much like at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. The scene then cuts to Luke in a black hooded cape, eyes closed in thought, resisting the Vader's presence. He's lit darkly, much like Anakin in Revenge of the Sith after his turn. The camera pans down to reveal that he's constructing his green lightsaber. After a few more modifications, he ignites the saber (to the applause of the audience), just as he's sending R2 and 3P0 to Jabba's palace. This would have made a very, very different movie. This certainly emphasizes that Luke was dangerously close to the dark side and could have turned by the end of the film.

For fans of the Clone Wars cartoon, more big news was made. Aside from George Lucas making a cameo (as his Episode III alter-ego Baron Papanoida) on the series in a scene that showed him in a barroom shoot out with Greedo, there was also news that Darth Maul's brother would be on the show. Count Dooku, eager to find an apprentice, goes to Maul's homeworld, seeking an apprentice and finds a suitable candidate in Darth Maul's brother. The clip they showed of this scene was brief and was a very dramatic reveal. If you're even a passing Star Wars fan and aren't watching this cartoon, there really isn't an excuse. This is the best stuff on television.

The thing I was struck most by was Stewart's level of geek. His follow-up questions to Lucas were just as sharp and knowledgeable as you would see on The Daily Show, but about Star Wars. At one point, he stopped George and said, "One thing I never got, was it Palpatine that actually killed Darth Plagueis in his sleep? It was insinuated, but was Palpatine making it up?"

It's not a question that would hit the mainstream with much, but to this audience it was an incredibly pertinent question. "Yes. Palpatine killed Plagueis in his sleep."

Pretty geeky, but I enjoyed every minute of it and it's good to know that Stewart is one of us.

There will be more coverage and pictures from Stewart's Press conference and a more detailed story of the event itself later on Big Shiny Robot!, but these were the highlights I figured everyone wanted to see immediately.

Bryan Young is the producer of Killer at Large and the editor of Big Shiny Robot!