No force for Los Angeles: The George Lucas museum goes to Chicago
Actor Harrison Ford, who was cast as Han Solo in the original "Star Wars" trilogy. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)Link
Two women have joined the cast of "Star Wars: Episode VII": Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o, left, and Gwendoline Christie.Link
"Inside Llewyn Davis" actor Oscar Isaac has been tapped to join the "Star Wars: Episode VII" cast. Click through to see who else scored a role in the film. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)Link
Actress Daisy Ridley, relatively new to the acting scene, has also landed a role in the upcoming film "Inbetweeners II." (Matthew Brooks)Link
Actor Adam Driver, best known for his work in the HBO comedy "Girls." (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)Link
Actor John Boyega, best known for playing Moses in the sci-fi flick "Attack the Block." (Tim P. Whitby / Getty Images)Link
Actor Max von Sydow, who received Academy Award nominations for his work in "Pelle the Conqueror" and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close." (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)Link
Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson, who played Bill Weasley in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." (John Phillips / Invision / Associated Press)Link
Actor Andy Serkis, best known for motion capture acting for roles such as Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and Caesar in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)Link
Actress Carrie Fisher, best known for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the original trilogy. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)Link
Actor Mark Hamill, best known for his portrayal of Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy. (Stephanie Cornfield / For the Times)Link
Actor Anthony Daniels, best known as C-3PO in the original "Star Wars" trilogy. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)Link
Actor Kenny Baker, best known for portraying "Star Wars" robot R2-D2, left, and actor Peter Mayhew, best known for portraying Chewbacca in the original trilogy. (Keith Hamshere / Lucasfilm Ltd)Link
In a galaxy far, far away in the Midwest, one known as Chicago, a grand institution will be built…
George Lucas has chosen the Illinois metropolis as the location for his museum, according to a Lucas spokesman as well as a spokeswoman for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The city beat out San Francisco, New York, and of course, Los Angeles.
Rest assured that Los Angeles made overtures, and not shy ones either, to claim the filmmaker’s museum, which will officially be called the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts. According to our sister blog, Culture Monster, none other than Mayor Garcetti himself reached out to the “Star Wars” creator. In a letter that he posted on his website, Garcetti tentatively proposed the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, located near USC, which is where Lucas studied film in the 1960s. From Culture Monster’s David Ng:
“The plan would be to tear down the arena, which opened in 1959, and to build the museum on the site. There’s already an approved environmental impact report concerning the possible demolition of the arena, according to Molly Fowler, a spokeswoman for Garcetti.
She said the mayor is eager to help museum officials expedite the construction process should Lucas choose L.A. The mayor would also help convene a body of cross-industry advisors that would help in the construction, she said.”
In addition to promising an easy path for construction, Garcetti also laid out many reasons why Los Angeles would make a great pick, including the 42.2 million tourists who visit the city annually. Even a Twitter campaign was fired up, under the hashtag #WhyLucasInLA.
But despite Twitter bringing up attractive Angeleno features such as the La Brea Tar Pits and In-N-Out Burger (really, people, burgers was the best you could do?), Lucas has chosen Chicago. Why?
Perhaps the plum piece of real estate Chicago has offered has something to do with it: The Lucas museum will get to share the city’s lakefront museum campus, home to the Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum, two long-established sites that could lend the Lucas Museum an air of dignified history. The Field Museum, for instance, opened in 1893 (to house the exhibits and collections assembled for the World’s Fair).
Also, Chicago had this advantage: investment executive Mellody Hobson, Lucas’ wife (the two married last year) and a lifelong Chicagoan. The couple is spending half the year in her native city, and the two have quickly become top-tier philanthropists there. They’ve donated $50 million in the last year to Chicago institutions, including $25 million to the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools to help construct an arts building named after Gordon Parks, the first African American staff photographer for Life magazine and later the first African American to direct a major Hollywood movie, his most famous film being 1971’s “Shaft.”
Maybe love is the greatest force of them all then. Who can fault Chicago for reaping the benefits?
The Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts, expected to open in 2018, will feature art from Lucas’ personal collection — including works by Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth and Maxfield Parrish — as well as exhibitions on “Star Wars,” the motion picture industry and digital media.
–Margaret Wappler | @MargaretWappler
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