Live-action Star Wars TV is a thing now thanks to The Mandalorian, but it could have been part of the franchise more than a decade ago, had George Lucas gotten his way. Lucas, starting around 2004, began assembling scripts for a live-action TV show, known as Star Wars: Underground, that never quite came together. Now, writer Ronald D. Moore has shed new light on the project.
Ronal D. Moore is known for his work on shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation, Battlestar Galactica and, more recently, Outlander. During a recent interview, Moore was asked about working on Star Wars: Underworld. First, Moore explained what went into the process to write the scripts.
“I was one of several, there was a bunch of international writers they assembled… we would gather up at Skywalker Ranch once every six to eight weeks, something like that. And we would break stories together, and right after we’d go off and write some drafts and bring ’em back, and George and we would sit down and critique them, and then do another draft and break more stories… It was great! It was a ball, it was a lot of fun.”
“It didn’t happen ultimately, we wrote I’d say somewhere in the 40-something, 48 scripts, something like that… the theory was George Lucas wanted to write all the scripts and get ’em all done and then he was gonna go off and figure out how to produce them, because he wanted to do a lot of cutting edge technological stuff with CG and virtual sets and so on. And so he had a whole new thing he wanted to accomplish.”
“And what happened was, you know, we wrote the scripts and then George said ‘OK, this is enough for now, and then I’ll get back to you. I want to look into all the production things.’ And then time went by and like a year or something after that is when he sold Lucasfilm to Disney.”
George Lucas’ idea was to get everything ready to go on the script side of things, then focus on getting the show made. Unfortunately, in the early 2000s before the rise of streaming, Star Wars on TV was cost-prohibitive. But, as Ronald D. Moore explains, Lucas wasn’t taking that into account. They were encouraged to go big.
“It was an extraordinary undertaking for someone to do. I don’t know anyone else that would really take that on… At the time, George just said ‘write them as big as you want, and we’ll figure it out later.’ So we really had no [budget] constraints. We were all experienced television and feature writers, so we all kind of new what was theoretically possible on a production budget. But we just went, ‘For this pass, OK let’s just take him at his word just to make it crazy and big’ and there was lots of action, lots of sets, and huge set pieces. Just much bigger than what you would normally do in a television show.”
Specific plot details for the show have remained elusive, for the most part. Earlier this year some test footage did leak online, previewing some of what we might have been able to expect, had Star Wars: Underworld been made. As Ronald D. Moore tells it, there would have been a large narrative throughline connecting the episodes.
“Yeah, I think it was pretty much one big storyline. It was one long tale with episodic things that would happen. You know, there would be certain events [that] would happen in this episode or this episode, so it was sort of an episodic quality to some of it. But it was telling a larger narrative, in terms of the story of those particular characters in that setting.”
Several live-action shows, including a Rogue One prequel and the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, are in the works for Disney+ currently. Meanwhile, these scripts are all just sitting in a vault somewhere at Lucasfilm collecting dust. This news comes to us via Collider.