My decade working for George Lucas, in pictures

What's it like to be a Star Wars fan working at Lucasfilm? CNET's Bonnie Burton looks back at shadowing Lucas, coming to work dressed as Jabba and saying "I do" to R2-D2.

Bonnie Burton profile photo
Bonnie Burton profile photo
Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
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Yoda statue love

CNET writer Bonnie Burton worked as an editor for Lucasfilm's Star Wars website from 2003 to 2013. This May the 4th, as Star Wars approaches its 40th anniversary, she looks back on a decade of working alongside Wookiees, droids and George Lucas himself.

Outside both Lucasfilm headquarters at San Francisco's Presidio and Big Rock Ranch in San Rafael, California, a Yoda statue greets visitors. Here I am showing the Big Rock Ranch Yoda some love.

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George Lucas and a furry friend

At Lucasfilm, I often found myself taking photos of George Lucas in the oddest of circumstances. Here's the filmmaker in 2006, with Wicket the Ewok, announcing he'd serve as the grand marshal for the 2007 Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California.

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Beep, beep, putt, putt

At Lucasfilm, it's not uncommon to see R2-D2 rolling around the halls or taking a break in someone's office. Here he is trying to erase his golf handicap.

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My first desk at Lucasfilm

I started working at Lucasfilm in 2003 on the Big Rock campus next to Skywalker Ranch in San Rafael, California. Here's my office decorated with pictures of Star Wars movie moments and photos from fellow Star Wars fans.

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Wampa co-worker?

When you work at Lucasfilm, one of your co-workers eventually will be upset with your work.

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I want my George TV

Following George Lucas around as he did press interviews, like one here for the 2007 Rose Bowl Parade, was always fun. I got the impression he had a great time seeing Star Wars celebrated in different ways -- like the beautiful Star Wars floats made just for this New Year's Day parade.

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Stormtroopers on parade

As part of the 2007 Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California, George Lucas asked that 200 Stormtroopers from 501st Legion clubs around the world march as part of the ceremony. Here they are in perfect formation.

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Meanwhile at Skywalker Ranch

The Main House at Skywalker Ranch is a beautiful building that houses a restaurant, screening rooms, a research library and the office of George Lucas himself.

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Skywalker Ranch transportation

When you work at Skywalker Ranch, bikes are the best way to get around. These rickety old-fashioned bikes were available to us for free. In excitement, some of us would race them from the Main House all the way to Ewok Lake.

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Chewbacca in the house

As much as I would love to say Chewbacca could be found wandering the halls of Lucasfilm on a daily basis, that wasn't the case. But when he visited during press movie screenings and fan events, he was a joy to have around.

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George Lucas and Jon Stewart meet

George Lucas has a great sense of humor, and he's a huge fan of Jon Stewart, former host of political humor series "The Daily Show." Lucas invited Stewart to interview him at Star Wars Celebration in 2010.

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My R2-D2 romance

To promote our wedding chapel for fans at Star Wars Celebration V in 2010, I took the plunge and married R2-D2. Darth Vader was my best man, while supermodel Adrianne Curry dressed as an Imperial officer was my maid of honor. Steve Sansweet, director of Lucasfilm fan relations, gave me away. Darth Maul married us, so I think it's legal in one of the galaxies.

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Lightsabers in space?

Luke Skywalker's original Jedi lightsaber film prop from "Return of the Jedi" made its way into space (for real) with NASA astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery in 2007. I traveled with Chewbacca to the hand-off ceremony at the Oakland, California, airport where the lightsaber made the first leg of its journey on the way to NASA, then space.

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Lucasfilm at the Presido

When Lucasfilm moved the majority of its operations from Skywalker Ranch and Big Rock Ranch to the 23-acre Letterman Digital and New Media Arts Center at San Francisco's Presidio, it was quite the event. Here's what it looked like for employees on opening day in 2005.

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Knock twice before entering

On the top floor of Lucasfilm headquarters in San Francisco's Presidio, there's an office ready and waiting for both Lucas and his filmmaker pal Steven Spielberg.

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Welcome to Javva the Hutt

Lucasfilm employees enjoy their coffee on the dark side, so many of us got our specialty brews at employee cafe Javva the Hutt.

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The mailbox I was looking for

To celebrate the 30-year anniversary of Star Wars in 2007, the United States Postal Service released 400 round-top mail collection boxes that looked like R2-D2. Here's me mailing a letter in one of them outside our Lucasfilm offices in San Francisco.

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The geekiest of yearbooks

Working at Lucasfilm often felt like being part of a high school experience complete with drama club, newspaper, home economics class and art class. So it makes sense we published an annual yearbook to celebrate memorable events and employees.

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Peter Mayhew meets mini-Chewbacca

Running into Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew at fan events and conventions was always a treat. Here he is in 2011 posing with a Chewbacca sock puppet I made using instructions from my own book "The Star Wars Craft Book." I had it on hand at the Lucasfilm booth at San Diego Comic-Con.

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Another George Lucas?

Puppets were a theme for me, apparently. Once, when George Lucas couldn't make it in person to one of the Lucasfilm presentations at a fan convention, we did the next best thing and made an uncanny puppet of him and shot a welcome video. That's me controlling Lucas the puppet.

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Beware of Wampa breath

The original Wampa head mask is one of the many impressive props found at Skywalker Ranch at the Lucasfilm Archives, a large building that documents and houses Lucasfilm props, costumes and set pieces from the Star Wars films and more. It's designed to preserve the items in careful climate-controlled conditions.

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Badge of honor

As a Lucasfilm employee, a large part of my job was interacting with fans, including the talented folks in the 501st Legion who dress up as Stormtroopers. I even became an honorary member. Here's my shiny badge to prove it.

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Rock stars meet Han in carbonite

While working at Lucasfilm, I often had the pleasure of taking rock stars and other celebrities on tours of the Lucasfilm campus at the Presidio. Here are members of the band Kasabian posing with the prop of Han Solo in carbonite that hangs in the lobby of Industrial Light & Magic.

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The Decemberists love Ewok sings

Members of indie band The Decemberists are big Star Wars fans. So when they passed through San Francisco on tour in 2005, I took them around Skywalker Ranch. Here's band member Jenny Conlee posing in front of the Ewok celebration song lyrics in sound designer Ben Burtt's office.

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Wookiee hugs are the best

Getting a Wookiee hug from Chewbacca is always a special moment. Here I am backstage at Disney World in Florida during Star Wars Days in the early 2000s.

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Carrie Fisher and Lucas say hello

Any time the late Star Wars actor Carrie Fisher was around, we all had fun listening to stories of what it was like to be a sassy princess in a galaxy far, far away. I snapped this photo of Fisher and Lucas greeting each other during Star Wars Celebration in 2010.

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Lightsaber salute

When the animated series "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" debuted its third season at Lucasfilm in 2010, the cast and crew stood with Lucas and hundreds of lucky fans proudly waving plastic lightsabers.

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Clone Wars royalty

Here's "The Clone Wars" voice actor Ashley Eckstein and showrunner Dave Filoni hanging out at a 2010 fan event at Lucasfilm.

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Ride the dewback!

At Star Wars Japan Celebration in 2008, fans could pose on top of a giant dewback prop. Here's one of the photos I took of fans enjoying themselves. I still wonder what happened to that dewback.

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Ewok this way

Taking photos of Star Wars cosplayers around the world has always been an honor for me. Here's a creative cosplayer who became an Ewok for Star Wars Japan Celebration in 2008.

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America's Next Top Leia

Star Wars fan and first "America's Next Top Model" winner Adrianne Curry would often cosplay at conventions as various characters. At San Diego Comic-Con in 2010, she dressed up as Slave Leia. Stormtroopers protected her from any would-be Jabba the Hutts.

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Elvis trooper yells bingo

Lucasfilm often hosted charity fundraisers. In 2009, we had an Elvis Stormtrooper impersonator on site as an announcer at charity bingo.

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The Maker in carbonite

Han Solo isn't the only Star Wars character trapped in carbonite. Here's a fan-made Lucas-in-carbonite prop I stumbled upon at Star Wars Japan Celebration convention near Tokyo in 2008.

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Bunny trooper?

There were plenty of costumes and props from the Star Wars movies in the hallways at Lucasfilm headquarters in San Francisco. Often, when the holidays arrived, I would place bunny ears or Santa hats on the Stormtroopers, droids and even Darth Vader himself.

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