Head on over to Collider for an interview Adam Chitwood recently held with The Rise of Skywalker creature effects supervisor Neal Scanlan in which he talks about creating the diminutive (yet highly skilled) droidsmith Babu Frik, bringing the Emperor back to the silver screen after his plummet down the Death Star II’s reactor shaft in Return of the Jedi, and early design work on a character called the Eye of Webbish Bog that did not make the final theatrical cut of the film.
I am a HUGE fan of hearing from the masterful creators behind movies and TV shows and how they bring it all together, so if you share my love for behind-the-scenes content, definitely give this interview a read.
If you’ve seen any Star Wars movie over the last five years, you’ve seen the work of Neal Scanlan. The Oscar-winning creature and makeup effects supervisor was responsible for reconceiving Chewbacca for the new Skywalker trilogy, as well as resurrecting Yoda in The Last Jedi and creating countless iconic creatures throughout the franchise. That’s certainly true of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, for which Scanlan and his team brought to life the instantly iconic Babu Frik and were tasked with bringing Emperor Palpatine back from the dead in unique fashion.
With Rise of Skywalker now available on Digital HD and hitting Blu-ray and DVD on March 31st, I recently got the chance to speak to Scanlan about his work on the film by phone. He discussed the process of creating creatures for Rise of Skywalker, and how early concept meetings—even without a script—lead to the design of characters that are vitally important to the film. In the case of this trilogy capper, Scanlan talked about the evolution of Babu Frik from originally being conceived as a medium-like character to the hilariously confident mechanic who works on C-3PO in the finished film, and how changes in the script affect the work that he and his team do. Scanlan also discussed how they visualized the return of Palpatine via a clone body, and the difference from early designs to what we see in the finished film, as well as creating—and shooting!—the “Eye of Webbish Bog” character and why it didn’t make the final cut.
The interview offers fascinating insight into how Star Wars movies are actually made, and highlights one of the most important creatives involved in bringing these films to life whose work is sometimes taken for granted.