When I finished Raiders of the Lost Ark, I took the script up to George to give to him. I was very ceremonial back then. He said, “Look, Leigh Brackett has died, and I want you to write Empire.” I said, “Well, don’t you think you ought to read Raiders first?” And he said, “Well, if I read it tonight and I hate it, I’ll withdraw this offer.”
Lawrence Kasdan reflects on writing the Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back in 1980.
It’s still the best-written of the Star Wars movies, that’s for sure. All the more surprising to learn that preproduction was already underway when Kasdan came on board. Kasdan also gives one of the all-time great diplomatic answers when asked about the Raiders of the Lost Ark sequels:
Q: How did you like the next two Indiana Jones films after Raiders?
A: I like ours the best. The spirit of it is the best. It’s the most original. I’m proud of it.
We’ll speak frankly for Kasdan, since he can’t: the second and third Raiders movies were lousy. Spielberg took what could have been a wonderful franchise and drove it directly into a ditch with lousy writing, hideous characters like Short Round and Willie “I’m Mrs. Steven Spielberg” Scott, and his obsession with blunt-force cutesy-poo malarkey.
But the Kasdan interview is great!