At Skywalker Ranch We Were

A Photoshoot with George Lucas & Yoda

Tom Zimberoff


©1989–2024 Tom Zimberoff / Not for Reproduction or to be Otherwise Altered, Modified, or Copied in Any Medium / All Rights Reserved

The 1989 Mill Valley Film Festival, in association with the Hanson Gallery in neighboring Sausalito, installed an exhibition of my portraits, including movie directors, actors, and writers. I was billed as a “Featured Artist” along with director Tony Richardson and actor James Woods, who both made a public appearance with me on opening night. Those were heady days. I even met the woman who would become my ex-wife at that auspicious event.

A week or so earlier, I was in the gallery with the staff, putting our heads together about how to hang the installation, when it dawned on us that I’d never photographed either Woods or Richardson. Unfortunately, they weren’t available to sit for portraits before the festival kicked off. But it might seem downright negligent to gallery visitors, we thought, that I’d never photographed one of the most illustrious cinemagicians of them all, a practically home-grown hero who lived and worked not so far, far away: George Lucas. Skywalker Ranch, the Lucasfilm production facility, was a short drive from the gallery.

It usually takes the clout of a major magazine to get a famous face in front of a lens; none of that paparazzi stuff but a private, exclusive photo session. I had never been assigned to photograph Lucas. But I had photographed Francis Coppola…