Part 3 of EW's new 'Star Wars' cover story explores the creatures surrounding Luke Skywalker on Ahch-To
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Who doesn’t like porgs? They’re all cute, and fluffy, and ingratiating…
But they get everywhere.
Below, in a new image from The Last Jedi, we see Chewbacca at the helm of the Millennium Falcon with one such interloper.
These penguin-like wide-eyed creatures are native to the planet of Ahch-To, site of the first Jedi temple, and they’re just one type of new creature the Dec. 15 film introduces to the Star Wars menagerie.
The porgs are so ubiquitous, they even leaked out ahead of time, sneaking past Lucasfilm security to bounce around the internet. In real life, they were puppets created through Neal Scanlan’s creature shop, with wide black eyes and furry, flapping wings.
Writer-director Rian Johnson said that although Luke Skywalker retreated to Ahch-To, he didn’t want the Jedi to be alone. Inspiration for the porgs came during a visit to the Irish island of Skellig Michael, where the final scenes of The Force Awakens were shot.
“If you go to Skellig at the right time of year, it’s just covered in puffins, and they’re the most adorable things in the world,” Johnson tells EW. “So when I was first scouting there, I saw these guys, and I was like, oh, these are part of the island. And so the Porgs are in that realm.”
But there is another alien life-form inhabiting the primeval Jedi temple.
“They’re kind of these sort of fish-bird type aliens who live on the island,” Johnson says. “They’ve been there for thousands of years, and they essentially keep up the structures on the island.”
The Caretakers are slightly more anthropomorphic than the porgs. They’re animated with a person inside (Daisy Ridley said a friend played one of them) and they wear clothes and speak in an alien tongue.
“They’re all female, and I wanted them to feel like a remote sort of little nunnery,” Johnson says. “Neal Scanlan’s crew designed them, and costume designer Michael Kaplan made these working clothes that also reflected sort of a nun-like, spartan sort of existence.”
They can communicate with Luke through what Johnson describes as “a blubbery sort of Scottish fish talk” but they’re not thrilled to have him hanging around. Johnson says they “tolerate” his presence.
The Force is connected with life. Yoda’s world of Dagobah was a swamp, teeming with flora and fauna, and so this ocean world would naturally evolve beings who are drawn to this sacred place. Johnson said they’re amphibious and may have risen up from the seas to tend to the buildings on this craggy archipelago eons ago.
“You get the sense they did at some point or maybe they occasionally do [return to the sea,] but when we see them, they’re land creatures,” Johnson says. “They’re these big matronly creatures, but they have these little skinny little bird feet. They were really fun to work with on set.”
JEDI CAVE PAINTINGS
We know from the teaser trailer that there is a tree-like structure on the Ahch-To island, and a fragile, ancient book that looks like the Journal of the Whills – a Jedi scripture that dates back to the original Star Wars mythology created by George Lucas. (In last year’s Rogue One, Baze Malbus, played by Jiang Wen, and Chirrut Imwe, played by Donnie Yen, were members of an order known as the Guardians of the Whills.)
Johnson said The Last Jedi touches on mystical history but doesn’t dive deeply into creating a whole galactic religion, but there will be elements on Ahch-To that deepen the mythology.
“Hopefully it will be fun to discover in the context of the movie,” he says. “My notion was this is a place that goes all the way back. This is where the cave paintings are.”
Johnson said he had to resist the urge to make it look too clean, too modern. It had to be something more primitive.
“The first designs that we had were temples, and I just kept pushing it back and saying, ‘No, think earlier, think earlier. Let’s push this all the way back and see how deep we can go into the foundations of where this all started.’”
Part 1 – Luke and Rey
Part 2 – Finn and Rose
Part 3 – Porgs and Caretakers
Part 4 – Snoke and the Praetorian Guard
Part 5 – Leia and Poe
Part 6 – Benicio Del Toro’s DJ