Hillary Clinton as Luke Skywalker: The Story Behind The Hollywood Reporter's 'Star Wars'-Inspired Cover

THR 24 Cover and Star Wars Poster-Photofest-H 2016
Illustration By Kyle Hilton; Photofest

THR creative director Shanti Marlar talks about the current cover by artist Kyle Hilton: "The stories are not all pro-Hillary inside. Some are a takedown and some are neutral and we're trying to show all angles, so just showing her celebratory onstage was kind of weird."

This week's Hollywood Reporter features a reimagining of the iconic movie poster for 1977's Star Wars with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton taking the place of Luke Skywalker, while the visage of Republican nominee Donald Trump, replacing Darth Vader, looms in the background. Clinton, raising a shining American flag triumphantly overhead — as Luke did his lightsaber on the original poster — is flanked by notable Hollywood stars, and contributors to her campaign, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Shonda Rhimes and Lena Dunham, who helped bolster Clinton with their endorsements, money or, in the case of Rhimes, her campaign video shown at last week's Democratic National Convention.

The story behind the cover, illustrated by artist Kyle Hilton, was more complicated than simply re-creating a classic film poster, however. Choosing just the right image to convey Clinton's tight relationship with Hollywood, and its impact on her presidential campaign, posed a challenge to THR's creative director, Shanti Marlar, who was under the gun to get the cover done on a tight deadline.

Here's what she had to say about how the cover went from imagination to publication.

What was the process behind creating this cover?

We wanted an illustrated cover and we pitched a bunch of different ideas to Janice [Min, chief creative officer and co-president of The Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group] because we wanted it to be Hillary in Hollywood and how Hollywood made Hillary a success, so we thought it'd be fun to do something very cinematic and memorable. We were looking at movie posters and we wanted something iconic, historic and recognizable. We didn't start with Star Wars. We looked back at the top 50 movie posters ever and we pitched something with Attack of the 50 Foot Woman; she's in white so we thought that would be fun [alluding to the white pantsuit Hillary sported during her speech at the DNC]. We would not have made her terrorizing a city but more triumphant, like the protector, and there would be lots of Hollywood people cheering her on [pointing to the pint-size gawkers in the original poster]. We also pitched something going off of The Social Network, a fairly famous image because it's all about getting these people together, going with her slogan "Stronger Together," but also making enemies. We also looked at literally creating our own poster, not mimicking a famous one, but just kind of going off of that collage-y, Photoshop-y poster idea. We pitched Star Wars and it worked great because she wore a white pantsuit. (Laughs.) She's coming out as very powerful and also she has that symbol of hope.

How did you decide on the other figures featured with Hillary?

We wanted people from Hollywood who are involved in building Hillary up. Shonda directed the little preroll before Hillary came out [onstage], Katzenberg has been a big part of fundraising behind the scenes, and Lena gave her great speech and is a symbol for younger people voting and getting behind Hillary. We also investigated using photography but it starts to look like a brochure for [Hillary]. We're trying to be a little more even. The stories are not all pro-Hillary inside. Some are a takedown and some are neutral and we're trying to show all angles, so just showing her celebratory onstage was kind of weird. I started trying to commission someone [to illustrate the cover] on Friday and I didn't get the illustrator until Sunday afternoon.

How quick was it turned around?

Like, crazy fast. We got the illustrator, [Hilton], Sunday at 4 p.m. and Monday by about 10 a.m. I had a sketch from him which was really pretty close. Then it's just all the details like what kind of background it's going to be put on. We had the illustrator draw a wall and that looked flat so we did this actual Photoshop version where it's a real wall. So it felt like a poster was really hanging there.

As a Star Wars fan, I find it funny that Trump is shown as Vader because at the end of the original trilogy Vader is actually a hero.

Oh, that's true. Well, maybe he will find that he has a good heart. They were trying to think of the headline and they had "The Empress Strikes Back," and I said, "You can't … the Emperor is bad! Also, this should be a Star Wars line not a Strikes Back, because it's the original poster, not the sequel' " and they were like, "You're overthinking it, nerd." (Laughs.) It does go well, though, because her acceptance speech at the DNC was her chance to strike back. No one's going to think about it as much as me, the big dork. (Laughs.)

THR doesn't often have illustrated covers.

We do them, but not that often. It makes people very fictionalized when you illustrate them. This cover tells more of the story of Hollywood and it's not just Hillary. If we had found a photo of [Hillary] and Shonda Rhimes hugging before the convention maybe that would have been an option but nothing existed.


This week's issue also features a story by Michael Wolff, who calls this a Duck Dynasty vs. Lena Dunham election and weighs in on Clinton's "self-delusion," Trump's "s— show" and the media's final, frantic 100 days of covering the election.

Thanks to Madame Tussauds, you can compare your hand size to Trump's — the size of his hands became an issue during the Republican debates earlier this year — and see how you measure up.

THR also reveals who won the Twitter war at the conventions (and other fascinating stats) and how an anti-Clinton economy is exploding in merchandise (for instance, a T-shirt featuring caricatures of Hillary Clinton and Monica Lewinsky that reads, "Hillary Sucks, But Not Like Monica"), movies and books — and why some Clinton supporters are even cashing in.

Plus, producer Gavin Polone reveals why he can't be shamed into voting for Clinton. (Not that he's voting for Trump, either.) Here's why.

Check out more from the issue here.