It wouldn’t be Star Wars without the rumor mill. As Rogue One: A Star Wars Story heads for release next weekend, Lucasfilm should start to roll out the early marketing for Star Wars: Episode VIII in late January or February, so as not to overshadow the first-ever Star Wars spinoff film. It’ll likely begin with a title reveal or teaser poster of some sort, but if a new rumor is to be believed, once Episode VIII arrives one of the Force Awakens characters will be looking quite different.
The folks over at MakingStarWars.net claim that Supreme Leader Snoke, played by Andy Serkis in Force Awakens, was brought to life via practical effects in Episode VIII. This is markedly different from his appearance in The Force Awakens, which was accomplished using motion-capture technology. Granted we only ever saw Snoke as a hologram, but the motion-capture allowed Serkis’ performance to shine through while J.J. Abrams’ design team could run wild with the character’s facial scarring.
But MakingStarWars claims that for at least part of Episode VIII, Snoke will be brought to life via a seven or eight foot-tall puppet, operated by several people to get him to walk.
So will Snoke be a practical creature in Episode VIII? Was this “puppet” simply a stand-in so the other actors had some scale when performing scenes with Snoke? Will this go the Unkar Plutt route, with practical effects digitally altered in post-production? We have no idea.
On the one hand, I could totally see director Rian Johnson wanting to bring even more practical effects into the Star Wars fold, especially since the design of Snoke was less-than-imposing in Force Awakens. But if the character is replaced by a practical effect, wouldn’t that provide a jarring disconnect between Episode VIII and Force Awakens? I suppose since Force Awakens Snoke was a hologram you could argue we haven’t seen his true form yet, but holograms are pretty accurate when it comes to likeness. Moreover, we know from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Warcraft that mo-cap technology is able to create fully relatable, realistic creatures while maintaining the actors’ performance. Why the need to switch to a puppet now?
So some of this doesn’t entirely add up. If I had to guess I’d say the puppet was being used for scale on set, and portions of it may end up in the finished film, but I’d be surprised if Snoke was completely replaced by a fully practical creature.
As for who Snoke really is, that’s a question that remains unanswered (but didn’t stop us from speculating).