This YouTube video shows Alec Guinness talking about Star Wars on the BBC's Parkinson show in 1977. The film was shortly to open in London's West End and Guinness was doing a round of publicity.
It's engaging to hear him talking quite warmly about the movie and of George Lucas. The tone is very much in line with an interview he gave to The Times the same month, in which he said: “I remember someone on the set criticising Lucas because of his lack of display and announcing that the film was going to be dull. So I took him aside and said: ‘Mark my words, this film is going to have distinction’.”
We now know that even while the film was being shot, Guinness was confiding to his diary that he regretted ever having agreed to do it. He wrote on April 16 1976: “I like them all well enough, but it’s not an acting job, the dialogue, which is lamentable, keeps being changed and only slightly improved and I find myself old and out of touch with the young.”
In later years, Star Wars became a sore point for Guinness, despite all the money it brought him. In his 1996 volume of diaries, My Name Escapes Me, he declared his intention not to make any more Star Wars films and complained that the post constantly brought him Star Wars photos with requests for autographs. “It’s mean and hard of me but from 1 January 1996 I am resolved to throw it all in the waste bin unopened, “he wrote. “I no longer have the energy to assist teenagers in their idiotic, albeit lucrative, hobby.”
Given how jaundiced the old man was to become, this clip is quite a refreshing flashback to an era when he was still prepared to speak kindly of Star Wars, and when audiences in his home country had yet to discover why this new science fiction film was causing such a fuss.