Darth Vader discos! Boba Fett kills Chewey! R2-D2 gets sexually aroused by Padme Amidala! Is the George Lucas universe out of alignment? Nope, it's Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III (airing Sunday, 11:30/10:30c, on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim), yet another raunchy, irreverent spoof on the Lucas legacy from writer-producers Seth Green and Matt Senreich. This stop-motion hour — featuring the voices of Zac Efron, Rachael Leigh Cook, Seth MacFarlane and Green, of course — not only has Lucas' blessing, he's hired Green and Senreich as consultants on a new animated Star Wars series that's currently in development and causing much fanboy buzz. TV Guide Magazine wrangled Green for a chat about all things Lucas and what it's like to be in the guy's inner circle.
TV Guide Magazine: Your special kicks off with Darth Vader throwing Emperor Palpatine to his death — a scene we know well from Return of the Jedi — but then it all goes freeze-frame and Palpatine says, "My whole life has been a series of what the f--k moments." Then he reflects back on the Lucas canon. Love it!
Green: Thanks! That's our theme for this special and it was all Matt's idea. He had this concept of telling the story of all six Star Wars movies through the Emperor's eyes, then that evolved into us telling the story through the perspectives of four main characters — the Emperor, Boba Fett, Darth Vader and Gary the Stormtrooper.
TV Guide Magazine: Thanks, by the way, for using some discretion in that scene where Palpatine gets naked.
Green: We just had to pixilate his man-parts. [Laughs] It was horrible. Every single time I had to watch that thing in editing I was, like, "We've gotta get that covered up." No one should have to see that.
TV Guide Magazine: How the hell does Lucas let you and Senreich get away with all this? We've come to think of him as this humorless, highly litigious stuffed shirt and you guys have reinvented him in our eyes. Clearly he's cooler than we think.
Green: The Lucas people protect their franchise so fiercely because it's the most bootlegged brand on the planet, so they have to legally defend that valiantly and constantly and under all circumstances. So, yeah, from that perspective they appear to be warlike Ninjas who would kill anyone who dared f--k with the integrity of the brand. But it's necessary. What people don't understand is that George is not a celebrity-type personality, someone who's out there doing game shows and interviews. He's confusing and mysterious and has lived his life as a private, creative entity, and as a result people have all these opinions and perceptions about him that aren't based on fact. He's in a place of power most people can't relate to or possibly understand. They can't believe that a real person — a human man — could ever be in such a position. And so they hypothesize.
TV Guide Magazine: It must feel good to be trusted by the guy. You're in a very exclusive tribe!
Green: I can't spend a lot of time thinking about it because it would stop me from doing my job. But every once in a while I have this "Holy crap!" moment where I can't believe this is actually happening to me. It's so ridiculously cool.
TV Guide Magazine: Do you keep Lucas in the loop as you're making these specials?
Green: We send him a rough cut in advance. But he likes to see the finished specials, too, and in the past he's come to watch them with the audience at our cast and crew screenings, which is amazing for them and a really fun experience.
TV Guide Magazine: Talk about getting Zac Efron to do the voice of Anakin.
Green: I love that guy, that's what it comes down to. [Laughs] It's true! Matt and I have a crush on Zac Efron! I met him on the set of 17 Again and thought he was so nice and professional and really smart. Later I ran into him at some events and he said he really liked Robot Chicken, so we brought him on as Billy Joel and he sang for us and was just brilliant and very funny and so sharp — exactly what Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt were like at his age. He has exactly that same potential in this business to be that kind of star. And he's really kind and humble and so handsome, know what I mean? He was perfect for Anakin.
TV Guide Magazine: Everybody's doing voices on Robot Chicken! Does anyone say no to Seth Green at this point?
Green: I was actually devastated that Jay-Z took a pass. I spent five or six weeks courting him to get him to do a sketch. Our show just isn't the type of thing that he does. A lot of people in his company were rooting for me and trying to make it happen. But I can see it from his perspective. There are some jobs I'd never take regardless of who's involved. So I don't take it personally. It was pie-in-the-sky thinking. I just wanted to hang out with him and make a song.
TV Guide Magazine: So this is your last Star Wars special for Chicken? Is that because of the new Lucas project?
Green: With Episode III we've accomplished something really pretty special and we're really pleased with it. You can get to a point where you're parodying a canon so much that you create your own canon, and we don't want to go there. We don't want to make this a series. And moving on to this new Star Wars project was definitely an influence on our decision.
TV Guide Magazine: So what can you say about this top-secret gig, besides nothing?
Green: I'm soo excited about it, but I just can't say anything.
TV Guide Magazine: Dude, give us something — anything! We'll take any pathetic morsel.
Green: Okay, okay! [Laughs] It will be different — and look different — than any Star Wars anyone has ever seen. People think they know what it's going to be like but they're not even close! I think maybe the hardcore fans are afraid. They just love Star Wars so much that they don't want this thing to suck. They want that assurance. They don't want to be mad at us. And I can assure them right here and now that they won't be mad. In the absence of information, everyone is theorizing about it and then translating their theories into six different languages. And because Matt and I are onboard, people are thinking in headlines like "Scandal Rocks the Star Wars World!"
TV Guide Magazine: Hey, you're a fanboy yourself — you'd be doing the same thing if you weren't involved!
Green: [Laughs] Yeah, I know. You're right. On my own projects, I'm really candid because I think people appreciate hearing about the process and they become more connected and invested in the material. So I never exclude our fans and am always forthcoming even in the earliest stages of a project because they enjoy that. But Star Wars fans are different and Lucasfilm knows that. They have to protect their projects until they are ready to be seen.
TV Guide Magazine: Will Lucas take this to Cartoon Network, like he did Clone Wars?
Green: Here's the beauty of making stuff with George: This new series is not for any particular network. He's not even thinking about where it's going to air or who will buy it or even if someone will buy it. He just makes a show, and makes it exactly the way he wants it to be. His attitude is, let's make it undeniably awesome and someone will have to buy it! I like the way he thinks.
TV Guide Magazine: At what stage is the project at this point?
Green: What stage? [Laughs] I probably shouldn't even talk about that! Let's just say we are in the early enough stages that no one at the company wants anybody to discuss it but we are far enough along that it occupies a good amount of my time.
TV Guide Magazine: Any ballpark idea when we'll see this thing?
Green: [Laughs] Listen, it could be next summer or 2025. George lives in a world where there is no concern about time. When you can self-finance anything you want, it gives you a very different kind of autonomy. You are not beholden to anyone on the planet. [Laughs] S--t, if I had that luxury, I'd take full advantage of it! George is living the dream. I'm just trying to be as close to that dream as possible!