Credit: Lucasfilm

We’ve already gotten to know the humans of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, now let’s acquaint ourselves with two heroes fighting for the Rebellion on behalf of the galaxy’s aliens.

We glimpsed both of them momentarily in the behind-the-scenes reel for the film unveiled last week at Star Wars Celebration in London, but now director Gareth Edwards is ready to reveal a bit more about the creatures fans have nicknamed “Space Monkey” and “Bigmouth.”

He says aliens are just as important a part of the uprising against the Empire as the humans, but they didn’t know what they wanted until Neal Scanlan’s creature department got busy making designs. The best of the menagerie made it into the movie (out Dec. 16).

“It wasn’t like, ‘We’ve got this character, we need to design a creature for it, and here’s what this creature’s like,'” Edwards said. “It was more like we told the creature department to come up with a thousand ideas, and then it was like casting the movie. There were walls and walls of these different types of characters that we could’ve picked from. We just went through them, like, ‘God, he’s fascinating…. Who’s that…? And she looks amazing…! And what’s that there?’ Slowly, we got it down to our top hundred, and then it got even more refined.”

First up — “Bigmouth,” whose real name is Pao, a soldier who serves as a kind of platoon leader, coordinating the charge into battle. “There was this great design of this creature that’s mouth would open really wide, and he looked like he was really good at giving orders and shouting at people during a battle,” Edwards said. “I was like, ‘We’ve got to give him that moment in the film,’ and so [Pao] was born out of that.”

Then there’s “Space Monkey,” who made a memorable onstage appearance at Celebration and was seen in the behind-the-scenes reel cackling madly while manning a machine gun on a starship. (I think he bears a startling resemblance to The Dirty Dozen star Ernest Borgnine.)

His real name: Bistan. He’s the gunner on a new starship known as the U-Wing, a sort of gunship and troop transport. “It’s not necessarily a character that we get to know, but I think he has a very memorable, iconic look,” said Edwards. “[He’s] one of my favorites. I can’t give away what happens to him.”

Although Bistan looks like he might be a second cousin to Wookiees and Ewoks, Lucasfilm story group guru Pablo Hidalgo revealed in Wednesday’s episode of The Star Wars Show that the alien is actually from the new Iakaru species.

Star Wars already has a world known as Yavin-4, so my fingers are crossed that Bistan comes from a world known as “Borgg-9.”

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
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