President Barack Obama, Director George Lucas


George Lucas famously closed out Star Wars: A New Hope with a rousing medal ceremony for its victorious rebel fighters.

Now, in a happy switcheroo, the Master Jedi himself is getting a sweet taste of that honor: The 69-year-old film legend was among the two dozen recipients of the National Medal of Arts and Humanities, which were awarded by President Barack Obama at a ceremony at the White House Wednesday.

"To make it look like those planes in space are actually flying like they are…I'm just saying, I remember when I first saw Star Wars," the POTUS said, per CNN. "There's a whole generation that thinks special effects always looked like they do today. It used to be that you would see, like, a string on the little model spaceships!"

Lucas, who recently wed longtime love Mellody Hobson, is in illustrious company: Other National Medal of Arts honorees include Angels in America playwright and Lincoln screenwriter Tony Kushner, trailblazing comedian and The Birdcage writer Elaine May, R&B pioneer Allen Toussaint, acclaimed soprano Renée Fleming, iconic musician and recording-industry exec Herb Alpert, and visual artist Ellsworth Kelly.

Recipients of the National Medal of Humanities include author Joan Didion, photographer and documentarian Camilo José Vergara, and playwright and Nurse Jackie actress Anna Deavere Smith.

The awards, which were handed out at the East Room, are bestowed through the National Endowment for the Arts in recognition of the "extraordinary accomplishments of individuals engaged in the creation and production of the arts in the United States."

In lauding this year's honorees, Obama told attendees: "At first glance this is a pretty diverse group...And yet for all their differences, today's honorees have one thing in common, and that is they are teachers, whether they realize it or not. They have taught us about ourselves and our world."

The president added: "We celebrate people like our honorees here today not just because of their talent but because they create something new. They create a new space and that becomes a lasting contribution to American life."

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