Before Star Wars, George Lucas Was Actually Planning to Film Francis Ford Coppola’s Movie in the Middle of One of World’s Deadliest Wars

George Lucas worked on developing the 1979 American epic war film Apocalypse Now, which was eventually directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

star wars, george lucas, francis ford
Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Rita Molnár, Joey Gannon


  • Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Apocalypse Now was written by John Milius, who had picked George Lucas to direct the movie.
  • Lucas spent several years developing and workshopping the screenplay with Milius, but later left to work on other projects like Star Wars.
  • Lucas and Milius had proposed filming the movie on location in Vietnam while the war was still ongoing but the idea was shut down by the studio.
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George Lucas established himself as a blockbuster filmmaker with 1977’s Star Wars, which has had an enduring legacy in cinema. However, before undertaking the epic space opera saga, Lucas was once considering directing a war drama film focusing on the Vietnam War, which Francis Ford Coppola eventually directed.

A still from Apocalypse Now.
Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now was initially developed by George Lucas (Credit: United Artists).

The 1979 war drama Apocalypse Now was initially going to be helmed by Lucas, who was involved in the project since the writing stage. Moreover, Lucas and writer John Milius had an extremely outrageous idea for the film’s production as the duo intended to shoot on actual locations where the war was still taking place. Here is everything you need to know about what could’ve been George Lucas’ Apocalypse Now.

George Lucas Almost Directed Apocalypse Now Before Creating Star Wars

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Apocalypse Now is a critically acclaimed film released in 1979. Coppola co-wrote the film’s screenplay alongside John Milius, who originally came up with the concept. However, during the initial stages of development, George Lucas was attached to the project as director.

George Lucas admitted his shortcomings. Credit: Late Night with Conan O’Brien
George Lucas wanted to direct Apocalypse Now before Star Wars (Credit: Late Night with Conan O’Brien).

According to reports, Milius picked Lucas to direct the film in 1969 and the latter helped the writer workshop the screenplay over the next few years. After the success of American Graffiti, Lucas was preparing to start work on Apocalypse Now and even had some locations scouted in the Philippines.

However, Lucas would eventually become preoccupied with some of his other projects, including his plans for the 1977 space opera Star Wars, which would become a cultural juggernaut. Ultimately, Lucas abandoned the project, and Coppola, who co-founded the production company American Zoetrope alongside Lucas took the director’s chair instead.

George Lucas And Writer John Milius Proposed Filming Apocalypse Now in Vietnam During the War

A still from Apocalypse Now.
George Lucas wanted to film Apocalypse Now in the midst of the Vietnam War (Credit: United Artists).

While Lucas was attached to Apocalypse Now as director, he intended the film to be a black-and-white documentary-style output made on a low budget. Presumably, it was this documentary approach that led to Lucas and Milius proposing the idea of shooting the movie on location in parts of Vietnam where the war was still ongoing during the early 70s.


Lucas had sent future Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz to scout locations in Vietnam. He revealed in an interview that provisions had been made to shoot the movie in Vietnam. However, Kurtz noted that the crew wanted to go to Vietnam without any protection, which raised the studio’s concerns over safety.

Why are we sending those hippies over there? They’re a bunch of nuts. Some of them will be killed. There’s a real war over there.

Kurtz made the above statement highlighting how the studio intervened in the proposed plan to shoot the movie during the war. He noted that the atmosphere in Vietnam was tense at the time, particularly because riots were taking place. Therefore, it would have been a poor choice to go ahead with the idea of shooting during the war.

Apocalypse Now is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Pratik Handore

Written by Pratik Handore

Articles Published: 607

Pratik is a writer at FandomWire, with a content writing experience of five years. Although he has a Bachelors in Hospitality, his fascination with all things pop culture led him to writing articles on a variety of topics ranging from latest streaming releases to unheard movie trivia. When not writing, you can find him reading manga, or watching classic TV shows.