Ron Howard has had an interesting directing career. From huge blockbuster hits such as Apollo 13 to family favorites like How the Grinch Stole Christmas to cinematographic and biographic masterpiece A Beautiful Mind, his career has been nothing short of eccentric and diverse. A little known fact about Ron Howard, however, was that he was one of a few directors to have been asked to direct The Phantom Menace.
In a discussion on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Howard discussed being confronted by George Lucas to direct The Phantom Menace. As well, he was the third director that Lucas had asked.
“[George Lucas] didn’t necessarily want to direct them. He told me he had talked to Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg, and me. I was the third one he spoke to. They all said the same thing: “George, you should do it!” I don’t think anybody wanted to follow-up that act at the time. It was an honor, but it would’ve been too daunting.”
While we have to live in the world we’re given, I’d give a fair amount to live in a universe where Stephen Spielberg directed The Phantom Menace. George Lucas has already expressed his disdain over directing the prequels, which came as no surprise to most. There’s even a rumor that David Lynch was up to direct Empire Strikes Back, which would’ve ended up being the most experimental sci-fi title of the time.
What would have any of these directors’ versions of The Phantom Menace look like, we’ll never know. What we do know is that we live in a universe that had Episode 1 directed by George Lucas, and we live with that scar everyday.