Most of us here are Star Wars fans of varying degrees. And while not everyone agrees on how the Skywalker saga ended, or how it was handled each step of the way, we can agree that the people who worked on the makeup, costumes, and practical and special effects are pretty talented and remarkable. In a recent interview with Collider, Oscar-winning creature and makeup effects supervisor Neal Scanlan opened up about the process of creating characters like Babu Frik and the Palpatine clone.
When asked about how they crafted the character, and what they had in mind when creating the concept, Scanlan said:
“Luke Fisher, who is one of the concept designers that works with us, did a lot of sketches of Palpatine being on a kind of life support system. Something that is keeping him alive and keeping him in one piece. And then some parts of his physicality are almost independently being fed the necessary nutrients of life-giving entities. So the idea of him being held on a rig which allowed him to move around and almost the Nosferatu aspect of that sequence, all of those things were part of trying to come to understand how much we would show with that.”
He went on to talk about the most extreme of the early ideas, saying:
“In the early concept days they were quite extreme. We explored a dismembered version of him. We explored more abstract versions of what he might be. You slowly get to the point where in J.J’s world, that [Palpatine clone] story is still being told, but to an audience that maybe is not so familiar with Star Wars, you don’t have to know the backstory so much. You can understand and be part of that story without necessarily having too much history. It’s that combination of being able to tell the story but at the same time have some depth to it, which is referring back to a larger meaning or a greater explanation.”
I can only imagine how hard it would be to be part of a team that has the responsibility of carrying out this epic type of story. So many ideas to harness and edit and hone to perfection. I think they ended up doing a great job with the execution of Palpatine, though. What do you think? Would you have liked to have seen the character look different from the outcome?