From J. W. Rinzler Blog:
” […] Back on set, whenever George asked Jimmy Smits (Bail Organa) to modify his performance or alter an action, Smits would reply, “Yes, sir.” Often when George asked Christensen or McGregor, they would reply, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”
They weren’t disrespectful, but they weren’t necessarily buying it either. They were going along with it.
Back on the Original Trilogy, Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) had understood instinctively where Lucas was coming from, though he was famously uncommunicative. It was nothing personal. As many know, “Faster” and/or “More intense,” was what Lucas often requested of his actors.
Part of his general reticence on any set was due to the fact that he simply didn’t want to be there. Lucas had told Roger Christian back in 1976, set decorator on Star Wars, that each day he woke up with a metaphorical sack of large stones on his back and spent the day struggling to remove them, painfully, one by one. On set for Episode III, I overheard George asking himself one morning, “Why am I putting myself through this again?”
In 1978, three crewmembers got into a post-film analysis of their ex-boss, concluding that he took too much on himself and stressed himself out unnecessarily. They also thought he often put his trust in the wrong people. I’ve read similar complaints about similar visionaries. Evidently, when you’re hounded by success, it often becomes difficult to tell who has your best interests at heart, particularly given that many folks may have already told you things that didn’t turn out to be true, or said that something wouldn’t work that did turn out to work, and vice versa, etc., etc. It’s a difficult position to be in.
Despite his directorial shorthand and his on-set suffering, Lucas, Ford, Fisher, and Hamill worked well together on the Original Trilogy and remained friends afterward. Lucas seemed particularly close with Fisher.
It didn’t help that Portman and McGregor had been wounded by negative reviews of the first two prequels, making this last one harder for them. In fact when I was given the greenlight to talk to McGregor on set, I went over to introduce myself and before I’d said two words, he shouted in a loud and annoyed voice, “Well, I’ll just let you know then!”
It was a tad awkward. Crew would tell me that on Episode I McGregor had been enthusiastic and kind, helping to move chairs for the next setup. But he’d changed. Rick told me that the actor was frustrated, and on an “emotional rollercoaster.”
He and Portman were never ready to be interviewed (instead I relied on EPKs). […]”
J. W. Rinzler altered his article, which now says: “It didn’t help that Portman and McGregor may have been wounded by negative reviews of the first two prequels, making this last one harder for them.”
He removed the anecdotes about McGregor’s behavior, and softened another part where he describes Christensen expressing his lack of understanding of Lucas’ vision of Anakin at one point.
J. W. Rinzler used to be a writer and editor at Lucas Licensing. He wrote The Making of Star Wars Revenge of the Sith, The Art of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and many other behind-the-scenes books.