Who is Marcia Griffin and Why Was She Considered George Lucas’ Secret Weapon?

If you note that Marcia’s IMDB page lists her as Marcia Lucas, you might be able to join the dots as to why she's been important in George Lucas' life. The short version is that in her own right, Marcia was a film editor, and, by virtue of being married to George Lucas, she edited a little film called American Graffiti for him. This led to her winning an Academy Award for her editing of Star Wars.

The longer version is that her early work garnered Maria a fair bit of attention and she got to “cut” Martin Scorsese’s first movie, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, which led to a gig helping with the classic Taxi Driver.

During this period Lucas was putting together the story of Star Wars, for which Marcia would act as a sounding board for ideas.

Legend has it that it was Marcia who came up with the idea of knocking off Ben Kenobi:

“There were heated creative arguments between them–for the good.” When Lucas was having difficulty coming up with ideas or ways of solving scenes and characters, he would talk about it with her; she even helped come up with killing off the mentor figure of Ben Kenobi when Lucas couldn't resolve the character in the last quarter of the film.”

After the filming of Star Wars was done and dusted, an Englishman by the name of John Jympson was hired to edit the movie, but George deemed the work unsuitable and it was “junked wholesale.”

This decision to junk the previous editing efforts put Lucas on the back foot in terms of getting the movie finished on time and so Marcia, Richard Chew, and (a short time later) Paul Hirsch began to oversee the new version of the film.

The Secret Story of Star Wars (now a defunct website) notes two key points about the process:

The Death Star trench run was originally edited as scripted with Luke Skywalker making two attempts to fire his missiles. However, there was a perceived lack of tension, so it was recut into what is now an iconic part of the movie.

Marica also lobbied for the retention of the Jabba the Hutt scene and is quoted as saying:

“Jabba was a big debatable item. George had never liked the scene Jabba was in because he felt that the casting was never strong enough. There was an element, however, that I liked a lot because of the way George had filmed it.

Jabba was seen in a long shot and he was yelling, while in the foreground, in a big close-up, Han's body wiped into the left corner of the frame and his hand was on a gun and he said, ‘I've been waiting for you, Jabba.'

Then we cut to Han's face and Jabba turned around. I thought it was a very verile moment for Han's character; it made him a real macho guy, and Harrison's performance was very good. I lobbied to keep the scene. But Jabba was not terrific, and Jabba's men, who all looked like Greedo, were made of molded green plastic.

George thought they looked pretty phony, so he had two reasons for wanting to cut the scene: the appearance of Jabba's men and the pacing of the movie. You have to pick up the pacing in an action movie like Star Wars, so ultimately, the scene wasn't necessary.”

marcia lucas oscar win
Happier times with Marcia and her Academy Award

The scene was eventually added to the redux version of the movie in 1997. Some trickery was required as Jabba was filmed as a human, whereas Return of the Jedi had him as the giant slug-like alien. The CGI Jabba had to be added over the human actor. Due to the fact Han walks around Jabba, the joke of him standing on Jabba's tail was required.

All Marcia's hard work paid off and she eventually won an Oscar for editing along with Chew and Hirsch.

Ultimately, Marcia's relationship with George Lucas was doomed and the marriage slowly fell apart. It came to its ultimate end in 1983, as Marcia chose to pursue a relationship with someone else.

Regardless, her place in Star Wars lore as one of its greatest contributors will never be in doubt.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.