Star Wars creator George Lucas said Monday that Hollywood studios refused to back his new film Red Tails - about World War II's Tuskegee Airmen - because the cast was all black.
This was told to a rather stunned Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's Daily Show (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
For those not familiar, the Tuskegee Airmen were a group of black pilots that fought in WWII segregated from white forces.
“It was designed to be during the war," Lucas said. "It’s very patriotic, very jingoistic, very old-fashioned, corny, just exactly like 'Flying Leathernecks' only this one was held up for release from 1942 when it was shot, and I’ve been trying to get it released ever since.”
Lucas told Stewart he’s been working on the film for 23 years. Although paying for it himself, he went to the studios to create the prints, ads, and be responsible for distribution.
“I showed it to all of them and they said, ‘No. We don’t know how to market a movie like this.”
When Stewart asked why, Lucas first responded, “Because it’s not green enough. They only release green movies.”
The filmmaker clarified, “It's because it's an all black movie. There's no major white roles in it at all. It’s one of the first all black action pictures ever made.”