Porgs, they are literally everywhere! But not everyone is accepting the adorable penguin-like dogs in Star Wars fandom, probably because there’s certainly some negative precedent of cute characters impacting the movies.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson knows that and understands that, but also stands behind his adorable creatures. In a recent interview with Yahoo!, Johnson reveals the porgs origin, the crew’s reaction to them, and hinted at their role in the film.
The porgs of The Last Jedi live on Ahch-To, the site of the first Jedi Temple where Rey meets Luke Skywalker for the first time in The Force Awakens. The creatures were actually inspired by the filming location’s actual wildlife. On the Irish island of Skellig Michael where those scenes were shot lived a massive amount of puffins. So Johnson wanted to pay tribute to that.
“I was like, ‘Oh, this is part of the island, we need to find the Star Wars version of this. And then just story-wise—not that they play a big part in the story—but I knew I wanted to find any source of comic relief I could on the island. And so they were very useful in terms of that.”
Johnson also admitted he didn’t even considered any potential backlash or Ewok/Jar Jar comparisons until the actual porgs, which are achieved both through CGI and practical effects, made it to the set.
“It wasn’t until we got the actual puppets on set and the whole crew reacted with ‘Oh my god, they’re adorable!,’ and also then a few people in the crew were of giving them that suspicious side-eye of ‘These are cute, but are they too cute?’ But the overwhelming reaction on set was everybody loved the porgs. And I love ’em, so you know what? I get it if people are a little wary of cuteness in the Star Wars universe, but I personally love them, and I think they have their place in the movie.”
And like everything in Star Wars, they already have their place in pop culture, even before fans really know how they will be portrayed in the film. Either way, we’ll find out what the porgs are all about on December 15, when Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters.