The nature of the moviemaking business is that not everything comes to fruition. Filmmakers can work on a project for years, even coming so far as to finishing casting, only to see it dissolve or evolve into something wholly unrecognizable. One of the more curious “could have been” projects of the last few years is the proposed Star Wars live-action series Star Wars: Underworld. George Lucas and producer Rick McCallum worked for a long while to put together a live-action TV show iteration of Star Wars, commissioning nearly 50 scripts and bringing together a team of writers to see them through. However, the project currently remains just an idea unlikely to ever move forward.
The mystery surrounding the scrapped TV series has grown to nearly mythic proportions, but the veil has now been lifted ever so slightly, revealing that the show would have delved into the backstories of Han Solo, Lando, Boba Fett, and more. Read on after the jump.
The idea of Star Wars: Underworld was to fill in the gaps of time in the Star Wars universe. Lucas assembled a team of writers—including Battlestar Galactica showrunner Ronald D. Moore—and they worked together to pen nearly 50 scripts that remain completed and ready to shoot. The issue, however, was that the project was way too expensive to actually produce for television. McCallum previously told us that Lucas had come up with digital characters that would have to be onscreen for 30-40 minutes at a time, which is extremely cost-prohibitive to create. Moreover, since Lucasfilm was used to having complete control of all of its properties, the prospect of selling the series to a network seemed tricky.
Story details for Star Wars: Underworld have always been under wraps, but one of the writers that worked on the series, Stephen Scaia, recently revealed a few aspects while promoting a Kickstarter for an Indiana Jones spinoff story. In the video (via /Film), Scaia reveals that some of the stories of Star Wars: Underworld involved “how Han met Chewie”, how “Lando lost the Millennium Falcon”, and there was even a Boba Fett action scene.
Now, even if it had now become more cost-effective to produce Star Wars: Underworld as Lucas had intended, the project would likely remain dead. Since Disney bought Lucasfilm, the studio has been aggressively expanding the brand and has begun work on “spinoff” Star Wars films that reportedly delve into the backstories of the aforementioned characters. It seems unlikely that Disney would want to “cross the streams” between the stories of the feature film and television divisions.
I’m sure Disney will at some point move forward with a Star Wars live-action TV series, but it seems highly unlikely that they would be using the exact scripts that Lucas commissioned for his version. That said, it’s certainly fun to think about what could have been had Lucas found a way to get Underworld off the ground.
For much more on Star Wars: Underworld, be sure to check out our interview with McCallum from a few years ago, before the Disney sale. He describes their plan for the show as “much darker” than the movies, specifically calling it “Empire Strikes Back on steroids.”