Marcia Lucas

Marcia Lou Lucas (née Griffin; born October 4, 1945)[1] is an Oscar-winning American film editor who was most well known for her work on the early 1970s films of Martin Scorsese. Lucas won the Academy Award for Best Film Editing in 1977 for Star Wars, which was written and directed by her first husband, George Lucas.[2][3] She returned to edit Return of the Jedi (1983), but decided to divorce George by the end of the year, citing his workaholism.

Marcia Lucas
Marcia Lou Griffin

(1945-10-04) October 4, 1945
Other namesMarcia Lucas Rodrigues
OccupationFilm editor
Years active1968–1983
Known forStar Wars
George Lucas
(m. 1969; div. 1983)

Tom Rodrigues
(m. 1983; div. 1993)
Children2, including Amanda Lucas

Early life

Lucas was born in Modesto, California. Her father was an Air Force officer stationed in Stockton, California, during World War II. Her parents divorced when she was two.[4] Her mother, Mae Griffin, relocated the family to live with her parents. When Marcia's grandfather died, her mother later moved to an apartment in North Hollywood, California, where she worked as a clerk at an insurance agency. When she was a teenager, her father reentered her life, but he had remarried and was stationed in Florida. Marcia lived with her stepfamily for two years and moved back to Hollywood. She returned to North Hollywood to finish high school, and enrolled in chemistry courses at Los Angeles City College while working in a mortgage banking firm.[5][6]


Early work

In 1964, Marcia's then-boyfriend worked for a Hollywood museum and wanted to hire her as a librarian to catalog all the donated movie memorabilia in which she had to apply at the California State Employment office. Instead, she was hired by Sandler Films who was searching for an apprentice film librarian with no experience. Marcia was eventually promoted up to being an assistant editor by the time she was twenty. Knowing her apprenticeship would only last eight years, she sought to become a commercial film editor. To improve her skills, she edited promotional films and trailers.[7]

In 1967, Verna Fields, one of the few respected female film editors in the industry at that time, asked Sandler Films to send her an assistant editor to help on a government-funded documentary titled Journey to the Pacific (1968) for the United States Information Agency. Fields also searched for students attending the University of Southern California to hire as assistant editors; one of whom was George Lucas.[2] The following spring, the newly engaged Marcia moved in with Lucas at his hilltop apartment in Portola Valley,[8] and returned to editing commercials as George Lucas accompanied Francis Ford Coppola to scout filming locations for The Rain People (1968) at Long Island, New York.[9] When principal photography begun on The Rain People, Lucas simultaneously begun shooting a behind-the-scenes documentary short titled Filmmaker (1968).

Feature film editing

Back in California, Marcia had accepted an offer to work on Medium Cool (1969) when George had recommended her as an assistant editor for Barry Malkin on The Rain People. Fortunately, the shooting schedule for Medium Cool was delayed, which allowed for her to work on both films.[10] Following this assignment, she and George returned to their Portola Drive residence to edit Filmmaker.[11] Shortly after, Coppola had established a multi-picture deal with his production company American Zoetrope and Warner Bros. Their first project was THX 1138 (1971) for which Marcia served as an assistant editor. Reflecting on the film's commercial failure, Marcia stated, "I never cared for THX because it left me cold. When the studio didn't like the film, I wasn't surprised. But George just said to me, I was stupid and knew nothing. Because I was just a Valley Girl. He was the intellectual."[12]

When principal photography had wrapped on American Graffiti (1973), George had wanted Marcia to edit the film, but Universal Pictures executive Ned Tanen insisted on hiring Verna Fields, who had just finished editing Steven Spielberg's The Sugarland Express (1974). However, Fields worked on the first rough cut of the film before she left to resume work on What's Up, Doc? (1972).[13] For the next six months, Marcia edited American Graffiti alongside her husband and sound editor Walter Murch to its contractual runtime of 110 minutes.[2][14] In 1974, Marcia Lucas and Fields were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing for their work on American Graffiti.

After American Graffiti was released, Martin Scorsese asked Marcia to edit his first studio film, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974). Sandra Weintraub recalled, "We knew her, and we liked her, and she was in the union. It was good for her to get away from George and his house. Here she was, a wonderful editor working on her husband's films. I don't think she got taken seriously."[15] As Marcia was editing the film in Los Angeles, George joined her and sequestered himself in a hotel room as he wrote the first draft for Star Wars (1977).[16] In his fourth draft of Star Wars, George had originally written for Obi-Wan Kenobi to survive his lightsaber duel with Darth Vader by retreating through a blast door that would slam shut behind him. However, Marcia suggested to her husband that he should kill off Kenobi and have him act as a spiritual guide to Luke.[17]

Before Star Wars entered post-production, George did not consider that Marcia would work on it as she expected to give birth after editing Taxi Driver (1976), but the pregnancy was unsuccessful. Instead, George hired British union editor John Jympson to cut the film while they were in England. Horrified by the first rough cut, George fired Jympson and replaced him with Marcia.[18] She was tasked to edit the Battle of Yavin sequence, in which she drastically diverted from the originally scripted shot sequence.[19] George estimated that "it took her eight weeks to cut that battle. It was extremely complex and we had 40,000 feet of dialogue footage of pilots saying this and that. And she had to cull through all that, and put in all the fighting as well."[17] While editing the sequence, she warned George, "If the audience doesn't cheer when Han Solo comes in at the last second in the Millennium Falcon to help Luke when he's being chased by Darth Vader, the picture doesn't work."[2]

As Marcia edited the Death Star assault, Lucas brought in editor Richard Chew to restructure the rough cut. As the workload grew too burdensome, Lucas hired Paul Hirsch as the film's third editor.[20][21] Shortly after Christmas 1976, Marcia left Star Wars to work on Scorsese's musical drama New York, New York (1977), as Irving Lerner had died before he finished editing the film.[18][22] At the 50th Academy Awards, Lucas won the 1977 Academy Award for Best Film Editing with Chew and Hirsch.[23]

Following the success of Star Wars, Marcia decided to place her career on hold in order to raise a family.[24] In the meantime, she supervised the completion of the interior design and decoration of Skywalker Ranch. After viewing the rough cut of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), she opined that there was no emotional closure because Marion did not appear at the ending. As a result, Spielberg shot the final scene with her and Indy.[25] In 1982, Marcia came onboard Return of the Jedi as the film's third editor alongside Duwayne Dunham and Sean Barton.[26] When asked of her contributions to the film, George described the scenes in which she helped edit as the emotional "dying and crying" scenes.[27] Marcia's last film credit was as producer of 1996's No Easy Way.

Personal life and legacy

In 1967, she met George Lucas while he was attending film school at the University of Southern California, when they both served as apprentice editors on Journey to the Pacific under Verna Fields. On February 22, 1969, they were married.[28] They adopted one daughter, Amanda Lucas, who was born in 1981. Due to her husband's commitments to the Star Wars films and Raiders of the Lost Ark, Marcia grew impatient in her marriage as she blamed his workaholism and emotional blockage.[29] In mid-1982, she asked for a divorce, but in order to maintain a positive public image, George asked her to wait until after the release of Return of the Jedi to go public with the decision.[30] On June 13, 1983, George formally announced at Skywalker Ranch that he and Marcia were divorcing; the couple would share custody of their daughter while Marcia would relocate to Los Angeles.[31][32] When the divorce was finalized, she reportedly received $50 million from the settlement.[29]

Marcia later married Tom Rodrigues, a stained glass artist who worked as a production manager at Skywalker Ranch from 1980 to 1983, whom she met prior to divorcing George.[29] In 1985, the couple had a daughter, Amy Rodrigues.[33] Lucas and Rodrigues divorced in 1993.[2]

In an interview, Mark Hamill cited Marcia for her contributions to Star Wars.[34] In Mythmaker: The Life and Work of George Lucas, filmmaker John Milius described Marcia's contributions to Milius's own films and those of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Martin Scorsese, calling her one of the best editors he knew.[2]:38–39


Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
1974 American Graffiti Academy Award for Best Film Editing Nominated Nominated with Verna Fields
1977 Taxi Driver BAFTA Award for Best Editing Nominated Nominated with Tom Rolf and Melvin Shapiro
1978 Star Wars Academy Award for Best Film Editing Won Nominated with Paul Hirsch and Richard Chew[23]
BAFTA Award for Best Editing Nominated
Saturn Award for Best Editing Won


Year Film Role Director Notes
1968 Filmmaker Editor (uncredited) George Lucas Documentary short
The New Cinema Assistant editor Gary Young TV Movie documentary
1969 The Rain People Assistant editor Francis Ford Coppola Theatrical films
Medium Cool Assistant editor Haskell Wexler
1971 THX 1138 Assistant editor George Lucas
1972 The Candidate Assistant editor Michael Ritchie
1973 American Graffiti Editor George Lucas
1974 Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore Editor Martin Scorsese
1976 Taxi Driver Supervising film editor Martin Scorsese
1977 New York, New York Supervising film editor Martin Scorsese
Star Wars Editor George Lucas
1979 More American Graffiti Editor (uncredited) Bill L. Norton
1980 The Empire Strikes Back Editor (uncredited) Irvin Kersher
1983 Return of the Jedi Editor Richard Marquand
1996 No Easy Way Executive producer Jeffrey Fine
1998 A Good Son Producer Robert Little Short

Special thanks credit for

  • More American Graffiti (1979)
  • The Making of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' (1981, TV Movie documentary)
  • Twice Upon a Time (1983, ''extra special thanks'')
  • A Good Son (1998, short; ''made possible by a grant from'')


  1. "Marcia Lou Griffin - California Birth Index". FamilySearch. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  2. Kaminski, Michael (6 January 2010). "In Tribute to Marcia Griffin". The Secret History of Star Wars. Archived from the original on 31 January 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  3. Chung, Frank (17 December 2015). "The 'secret weapon' behind Star Wars". Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  4. Biskind 1998, p. 237.
  5. Pollock 1983, pp. 63–4.
  6. Jones 2016, pp. 70–1.
  7. Pollock 1983, p. 64.
  8. Jones 2016, p. 79.
  9. Jones 2016, p. 94.
  10. Jones 2016, p. 96.
  11. Pollock 1983, p. 77.
  12. Pollock 1983, p. 96.
  13. Baxter, John (1999). Mythmaker: The Life and Work of George Lucas. New York City: Spike Books. pp. 132–35. ISBN 0-380-97833-4.
  14. Jones 2016, p. 155.
  15. Biskind 1998, p. 253.
  16. Pollock 1983, p. 138.
  17. Scanlon, Paul (August 25, 1977). "George Lucas: The Wizard of 'Star Wars'". Rolling Stone (Interview). Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  18. Biskind 1998, p. 330.
  19. Jones 2016, p. 234.
  20. Jones 2016, pp. 233–4.
  21. Biskind 1998, p. 174.
  22. Jones 2016, p. 236.
  23. Fawcett, Farrah; Mastroianni, Marcello; Hirsch, Paul; Lucas, Marcia; Chew, Richard (3 April 1978). "Star Wars Wins Film Editing: 1978 Oscars". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  24. "The Star Wars Phenonemeon". People. July 18, 1977. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  25. Jones 2016, p. 297.
  26. Jones 2016, pp. 312–4.
  27. Clarke, Gerald (May 23, 1983). "I've Got to Get My Life Back Again". Time. 121 (21). Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  28. Pollock 1983, p. 83.
  29. Biskind 1998, pp. 422–3.
  30. Jones 2016, p. 314.
  31. Jones 2016, p. 320.
  32. Scanlon, Paul (July 21, 1983). "George Lucas Wants to Play Guitar as 'Star Wars' Takes a Vacation". Rolling Stone (Interview). Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  33. Sparks, Steve (24 January 2011). "Tom Rodrigues". Lives and Times of Anderson Valley Folks. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  34. Chaw, Walter (19 March 2013). "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Toshi's Station: FFC Interviews Mark Hamill". Film Freak Central. Retrieved 28 December 2015.


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