George Lucas Thrills Die-Hard Fans at 'Star Wars' Celebration

Worlds with Double Sunsets Common
After discussing his future plans with his Uncle Owen, Luke Skywalker leaves the Lars Homestead and heads towards the vista to watch the twin suns of Tatooine set while he reflects upon his destiny. © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

ORLANDO, Fla ?"Star Wars" creator George Lucas thrilled lucky fans Saturday during a live,on-stage interview on topics ranging from the origins of Darth Vader's name tohome-made droids.

The man behind the hugely popular "Star Wars" film franchise appearedon-stage this morning before approximately 2,600 fans here at the Star WarsCelebration V convention in the Orange County Convention Center. The interview,appropriately titled "The Main Event," was moderated by TV comedianJon Stewart, host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central.

The hour-long candid conversationdrew attendees from all over the world. Devoted fans even camped out at theconvention center overnight for the chance to see Lucas in the flesh.

In addition to the audience at theChapin Theater, the interview was also simulcast live in six differentlocations throughout the convention center. In total, over 7,400 had theopportunity to experience the fan event.

At one point, Stewart and Lucas tooka look at the enduring "Star Wars" legacy that has been a fixture in popular culture for morethan 30 years. [Graphic: Light Sabers in Fact and Fiction]

"I make movies for fans," Lucassaid. "I make movies for people who like to go to the movies. And it's great tobe appreciated."

'Star Wars' secrets, homemade droids

Lucas thanked the fans for theircontinued loyalty, and mused about what it feels like to be a part of the Star Wars Celebration experience.

In particular, he commented on the"tragedy" of seeing such sophisticated homemade droids being driven around theconvention center, after he had spent years struggling to get R2-D2 to properlyfunction in front of the camera.

"It's one of the great ironies oflife," Lucas said. "I spent eight years trying to get R2 to work. Our droidswere so inadequate that we had to take fiberglass molds, put them on wheels andhold them up with string."

Lucas also revealed the inspirationsbehind some of the names featured in the series. The furry Ewok hunters ofEndor were named after a band of Native Americans, called Miwok, who live nearLucas' Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, Calif.

The name "Darth Vader" is avariation of the phrase "dark father" in Dutch, Lucas said. And the characterDexter Jettster from "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," was named after Lucas's son,Jett.

The Force Revealed

Lucas went on to describe how hisfascination with comparative mythology shaped his idea of "the Force."

"I went through all the religionsand took out the commonality in them," Lucas said. "The Force is thatcommonality. So, the force is all religion."

He also spoke about the main themesfrom the series, including love, greed, power and corruption.

And for the young fans inattendance, Lucas imparted advice for those who strive to follow in hisfootsteps in the movie business.

"Go to school, go to college, go tofilm school," Lucas said. "Do well in school, and be mindlessly persistent."

When Stewart asked the legendary filmmaker about the impact of "Star Wars"throughout the world, Lucas expressed his gratitude, but set his sights evenhigher. He imagined the day when a human being first sets foot on the surfaceof Mars.

On that day, Lucas said, he hopesthe first words are: "I've wanted to do that ever since I saw 'Star Wars'."

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Denise Chow
NBC News science writer

Denise Chow is a former staff writer who then worked as assistant managing editor at Live Science before moving to NBC News as a science reporter, where she focuses on general science and climate change. She spent two years with, writing about rocket launches and covering NASA's final three space shuttle missions, before joining the Live Science team in 2013. A Canadian transplant, Denise has a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, and a master's degree in journalism from New York University. At NBC News, Denise covers general science and climate change.