Secrets of The Last Jedi: Meet BB-9E – an evil droid of the First Order

By Anthony Breznican
November 28, 2017 at 02:25 PM EST

Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi

  • Movie

Kylo Ren doesn’t need a sidekick droid – it’s more likely to be actually kicked in a fit of wild rage.

But the First Order does have some roly-poly robots rumbling through the corridors of its fleet, and The Last Jedi will put us in contact with one sinister black and white droid: BB-9E.

The “E” is for evil. But the creation had another nickname: “BB‑Hate, as we called him on set,” says writer-director Rian Johnson.

The make is a familiar BB ball-droid unit, but the model is not. This is a variation on cute and cuddly BB-8 that is meant to evoke dread instead of warmth, with a wasp-shaped flat-top head, a low electronic growl, and a single glowing eye borrowed from HAL 9000, the malignant supercomputer from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

“BB-8 has this huge personality and this huge heart, but you know, in a sense, I’ve always found it to have a sort of slightly manipulative quality,” says Neal Scanlan, head of the Star Wars creature shop. “With BB-9E, we go back to literally the cold First Order sort of Empire version of what a BB unit might be. This was much more cold, calculative, much more direct.”

The chrome grill work on BB-9E’s panels combines with the blue and white lights of its face to suggest … getting pulled over by the police. Scanlan says the character has a “patrolling element” and the body was inspired by the front ends of cars from the 1960s.

So, think of BB-9E as a beachball-shaped squad car bearing down on you in the halls of Supreme Leader Snoke’s star destroyer.

But while BB-8 often pairs with X-wing pilot Poe Dameron, or rolls with Finn and Rose Tico on their mission to the casino world of Canto Bight, BB-9E is a relative loner.

Still, the two droids will have a moment of conflict in The Last Jedi. And their color schemes are a bit of an homage to the orange and white flight suit of an old-school X-wing pilot and the black, life-sustaining armor of a Sith Lord. “There’s a lovely moment between BB-8 and BB-9E, which tells that sort of parallel story of Vader and Luke,” Scanlan promises.

Fans will have to wait to see what that means when the movie opens on Dec. 15.

Episode Recaps

Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • Rian Johnson