The founder of Lucasfilm has long been the overseer of all things Star Wars, with Lucas shepherding the franchise through six films over 40 years until his semi-retirement in 2012.
Since being sold to Disney, Lucasfilm has produced a number of Star Wars projects without Lucas' involvement. This included the sequel trilogy (Episodes VII-IX), a number of Disney+ TV series, such as The Mandalorian, and spin-off movies like Solo: A Star Wars Story and Rogue One.
What Did George Lucas Think of Rogue One?
According to Gilroy, Lucas phoned the writer after the release of Rogue One to tell him he "loved" the movie:
"George Lucas called me after 'Rogue,' I had a 45-minute conversation with him after he saw 'Rogue,' and that's the only time I've ever spoken to him. He loved it. He really did. He had a lot of things to say that I... It was like a call from the president."
Lucas' warm reception of Rogue One is interesting considering the mixed reactions he's had to other Star Wars films in the Disney era.
In Disney CEO Bob Iger's memoir, The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned From 15 Years As CEO Of The Walt Disney Company, Lucas was reportedly disappointed following a screening of The Force Awakens:
"Just prior to the global release, Kathy screened 'The Force Awakens' for George. He didn’t hide his disappointment. 'There’s nothing new,' he said. In each of the films in the original trilogy, it was important to him to present new worlds, new stories, new characters, and new technologies. In this one, he said, 'There weren’t enough visual or technical leaps forward.'"
However, Lucas has thrown support behind other Star Wars titles since his retirement.
Ron Howard told Comicbook.com that Lucas was "really supportive" of Solo: A Star Wars Story, even making a rare visit to the set of the movie:
"(George Lucas) was really supportive of it. He doesn’t get down in the weeds on the movies anymore. He did come by and visit the set, which is a pretty rare thing, but he did it as a show of support which was really cool. And he was really complimentary. But he was also really confident when I came in that I would get the feel of it and understand how to maximize the entertainment value of these characters and this world.”
Lucas has always been reluctant to single out any one Star Wars movie as his preference, making mention to MTV in 2015 that he "can't pick a favorite:"
"It's like my children. I can't pick a favorite. They're all different in their own special little ways."
The Lucas Stamp of Approval
While George Lucas may have stepped away from Star Wars projects, the creator's opinion still bears a lot of weight.
Dave Filoni has shared many stories about how Lucas' visits to the set of The Mandalorian have influenced the show's storytelling. Similarly, showrunner Leslye Headland has said Lucas' political themes served as an inspiration for the upcoming Disney+ series The Acolyte.
Lucas' stamp of approval on Rogue One is possibly part of the reason its spin-off, Andor, went on to become the successful show it is. Gilroy has previously said he avoids letting fan comments influence the show, but a positive endorsement from Lucas himself would certainly be a confidence boost.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is currently streaming on Disney+.