George Lucas Receives Honorary Palme d'Or at Cannes: 'I Don't Make the Kind of Movies That Win Awards'

The 'Star Wars' creator's fellow filmmaker and lifelong friend Francis Ford Coppola presented him with the honor

<p>Victor Boyko/Getty</p> George Lucas accepting the Palme d

Victor Boyko/Getty

George Lucas accepting the Palme d'Or on May 25, 2024

George Lucas is receiving more recognition for his influential career.

Lucas, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday, received an honorary Palme d'Or at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival's closing ceremony on Saturday, May 25 — and another legendary filmmaker, his lifelong pal Francis Ford Coppola, presented it to him.

Speaking with French journalist Didier Allouch about the award — the festival's highest honor — the day before he accepted it, Lucas said "it's always great to be recognized."

"Obviously we have a lot of fans, but, in terms of Star Wars and stuff, I don't make the kind of movies that win awards," he added.

<p>Pascal Le Segretain/Getty </p> George Lucas (left) receives the Palme d'Or, presented by his longtime friend Francis Ford Coppola

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

George Lucas (left) receives the Palme d'Or, presented by his longtime friend Francis Ford Coppola

Also during the May 24 panel, Lucas recalled the moment his path first crossed with Coppola's when he worked as The Godfather director's assistant on the set of 1968's Finian’s Rainbow.

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"I was just a student observer and I was bored to death," he recalled. "I said, ‘I don't want to make Hollywood movies. I know how to do this.’ "

Related: Why Meryl Streep Thought Her Career Was ‘Over’ When She Attended the 1989 Cannes Film Festival

"We were the only two people on the crew under 60 years old," he continued. "We both had beards. We both went to film schools. So we were a completely different group than the crew and everybody. So that was my moment."

And, when asked whether he — along with Coppola and famed director Paul Schrader — realized he was changing cinema by proving independent films can be moneymakers, the American Graffiti director said, "Well, to be very honest with you, we weren't really that interested in making money. We were interested in making movies."

"That was a big difference," he added, "because we all loved movies."

<p>Pascal Le Segretain/Getty </p> Francis Ford Coppola (left) presents George Lucas with the Palme d'Or

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

Francis Ford Coppola (left) presents George Lucas with the Palme d'Or

Lucas is best known as the creator of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones film franchises — he directed or produced each of the first six Star Wars movies until he sold his company, Lucasfilm, and the rights to Star Wars to Disney in 2012.

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While speaking about his particularly special visit to Cannes this year on May 23, Lucas recalled previous trips to the festival for his beloved franchises.

"I’m very happy to be here, even though I’m also struck by a feeling of nostalgia, as I’ve often come to Cannes, particularly for Indiana Jones and Star Wars," Lucas said during the conversation. "I obviously have a lot of fans, but I’ve never made award-winning films. That’s why receiving this Palme d’Or is a great honor."

Related: The Acolyte's Amandla Stenberg Shares the 1 Thing That Surprised Her While Working on the Star Wars Series (Exclusive)

During the Friday conversation, the film legend also spoke to issues he takes with those who critique his Star Wars films for a perceived lack of diversity. "They would say, ‘It’s all white men.' I'd say, 'It's not. Most of the people are aliens!' " he said.

<p>Kristy Sparow/Getty</p> George Lucas speaks at Cannes Film Festival on May 24, 2024

Kristy Sparow/Getty

George Lucas speaks at Cannes Film Festival on May 24, 2024

Reacting to the news he would receive the honorary award — which Meryl Streep also received at Cannes' opening ceremony on May 14 — Lucas said last month, “The Festival de Cannes has always held a special place in my heart."

"I was surprised and elated when my first film, THX-1138, was selected to be shown on the Croisette in 1971," he continued. "Since then, I have returned to the Festival on many occasions in a variety of capacities as a writer, director and producer. I am truly honored by this special recognition which means a great deal to me.”

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