Star Wars Fans Would Have Never Forgiven Steven Spielberg if His Innocent Prank on Best Friend George Lucas Had Gone Horribly Wrong

Steven Spielberg's near-disastrous prank with the Star Wars creator.

Steven Spielberg and Star Wars
Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Dick Thomas Johnson

SUMMARY

  • Steven Spielberg once pulled a prank on his friend George Lucas after he visited him while he was working on the 1975 thriller Jaws.
  • Curious about Bruce the Shark's mechanics, Lucas poked his head into the shark's mouth but found himself unable to get out.
  • It was Spielberg who snuck to the controls and closed the shark’s mouth, which later malfunctioned, trapping Lucas in the Shark's mouth for an extended period.
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After breaking into Hollywood in the 1970s, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas laid the groundwork for modern blockbuster cinema. The duo is also known for collaborating on hits like the Indiana Jones film series, which has become a cinematic icon over the years. Both have also expressed their joy in working together and their mutual admiration.

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Steven Spielberg and George Lucas | Credit: Jarc12030 via Wikimedia Commons

After meeting in the late 60s, the two bonded over a shared love of cinema and respect for each other’s craft. Lucas even visited Spielberg during the pre-production of his iconic thriller Jaws. However, Spielberg’s antics and his friend’s mischievous nature could have taken a drastic turn amid an unexpected malfunction with the mechanical shark used in the movie.

George Lucas Stuck His Head in the Mechanical Shark Used in Jaws

According to the Inside Jaws podcast, filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s close friend George Lucas visited him while he was busy in pre-production for the 1975 thriller film, Jaws. Martin Scorsese and Red Dawn filmmaker John Milius reportedly joined the Star Wars creator.

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A still from Steven Spielberg's Jaws
Jaws | Credit: Universal

Being an enthusiast for animatronics and practical effects, Lucas couldn’t resist checking out the mechanical ‘Bruce the Shark,’ which was being prepared for the movie. So he decided to visit the shark in the workroom to get a good look at the intricacy of developing such a creature for the movie.

Curious about its mechanics, Lucas poked his head into the shark’s mouth but found himself unable to get out. Lucas was stuck in the mount of Bruce the Shark. It was later revealed that Spielberg, who thought it would be funny to close the shark’s mouth, pulled a prank on Lucas.

George Lucas
Hollywood director George Lucas (image credit: Joey Gannon/Wikimedia Commons)

He snuck to the controls with Milius and closed the shark’s mouth, trapping Lucas inside. However, amid this mischievous act, the shark malfunctioned, leaving Lucas trapped in the Shark’s mouth for an extended period.

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Once they were able to get Lucas’ head out of the shark, the three filmmakers fled the scene, worried they might have damaged the expensive and crucial prop. While Spielberg and Lucas have not addressed the incident publicly, John Milius has remarked on the incident, saying, “We knew we’d broken something expensive,” as per IMDb.

How Did Steven Spielberg And George Lucas Meet?

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have maintained a strong friendship in the industry since the two initially met in 1967 at a film festival where the American Graffiti director was set to present his short film, THX 1138 4EB.

Steven Spielberg at the 2017 SDCC
Steven Spielberg at the 2017 SDCC [Photo: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons]
Recalling his experience watching Lucas’ short film, the Jurassic Park director shared that he was amazed by the short film, calling it better than any of his work at the time. He said, as per The Bearded Trio,

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I realized that there was an entire generation coming out of NYU, USC and UCLA. THX-1138 made me jealous to the marrow of my bones. I was eighteen years old and had directed fifteen short films by that time, and this little movie was better than all of my movies combined.

A few years later, Lucas joined Francis Ford Coppola’s screening of Spielberg’s Duel. Although initially intending to watch only a few minutes, Lucas couldn’t tear himself away and ended up watching the whole film. He remarked,

Since I’d met Steven, I was curious about the movie and thought I’d sneak upstairs and catch 10 or 15 minutes. Once I started watching I couldn’t tear myself away. I thought, This guy is really sharp. I’ve got to get to know him better.

George Lucas
Hollywood filmmaker George Lucas (image credit: Joi Ito via Wikimedia Commons)

The relationship which started with a bit of enviousness soon developed into mutual appreciation. Spielberg even supported Lucas when Star Wars was predicted to be a failure. He was so sure about the film’s success that he landed a bet with the creator of the galactic empire.

Under their bet, Lucas offered a percentage of the takings from his sci-fi epic in return for the same percentage from Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Thanks to the deal, Spielberg is said to still make a significant profit more than four decades after its release.

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Jaws is available to stream on Prime Video. 

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Written by Laxmi Rajput

Articles Published: 2448

Laxmi Rajput is a writer at Fandomwire. She finished her Post Graduation in Broadcast Journalism and worked as a Business News writer for a year. But her interest in entertainment and pop culture compelled her to find a way towards Entertainment Journalism. She has worked across various fields and has 2 years of experience in content writing. She likes reading, music, movies, and traveling. She aspires to become a fiction writer in the future.