Dale Pollock, the author of the 1999 biography "Skywalking," said Lucas disdained the Disney culture in interviews he gave in the 1980s, even though he admired the company's founder. "He felt the corporate 'Disneyization' had destroyed the spirit of Walt," Pollock said.
Lucas said through a spokeswoman on Saturday that he never said such a thing. But his anti-corporate streak is renowned. In the Lucasfilm-sanctioned documentary "Empire of Dreams", Lucas says on camera that he is "not happy that corporations have taken over the film industry."
Growing up in the central California town of Modesto, the independent streak was strong in young Lucas. The family lived on a walnut ranch and Lucas' father owned a stationery store. But, like his fictional protege Luke, George had no interest in taking over the family business. Lucas and his father fought when George made it clear that he'd rather go to college to study art than follow in his father's footsteps.
Lucas loved fast cars, and dreamed that racing them would be his ticket out. A near-fatal car crash the day before his high school graduation convinced him otherwise.
"I decided I'd better settle down and go to school," he told sci-fi magazine Starlog in 1981.
As a film student at the University of Southern California, he experimented with "cinema verite," a provocative form of documentary, and "tone poems" that visualized a piece of music or other artistic work.
The style is reflected in some of the short films he made at USC: "1:42:08" focused on the sound of a Lotus race car's engine driving at full speed and "Anyone Who Lived in a Pretty How Town," inspired by an e.e. Cummings poem. In later interviews, Lucas described his early films as "visual exercises."