If you remember one thing about the first half of Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi, it’s probably the presence of one corpulent space-slug by the name of Jabba the Hutt. Apparently, there are now whispers that several others members of his species will appear in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens – and that they’ll be practical effects once again.
First, before we get into the news, I’d like to point out an article written by Jason Ward that I saw on MSW several months ago bringing the possible presence of Hutts in the movie, among other things. The article discussed information from an informant, including a bit of concept art discussed below:
Leia and the Hutts – There was a production sketch done very very early on which showed Princess Leia standing in the middle of several Hutts. She was wearing a maroon dress (political style) and was flanked by two soldiers (they looked to me like the Naboo guards from Phantom Menace but to others they looked like the rebel soldiers from the beginning of A New Hope.) The picture looked as if she was having a meeting with them. She certainly didn’t appear to be captive or under threat. I have no idea if this sketch has anything to do with the movie that is being shot as it was very early on.
A thing that I liked about that particular bit of information is that it gave us an idea of what Leia might do in the movie – after all, almost all of the focus on the old guard seemed to be evenly split between Han and Luke’s roles in the movie. Still, as production went by, very little else was spoken of Leia’s role in the movie or the appearance of some Hutts, and it began to seem like the idea of the meeting between the two parties was just a concept that dropped on the cutting-room floor early on in production.
For a long while, it seemed like that was still the case – that is, until recently. Latino-Review columnist Da7e recently wrote a piece about Hutts, and I cannot lie – this is an interesting bit of news about the production, and it even says something about the franchise going forward.
The Hutts are the gangster kings of Tatooine and they have a history with Anakin Skywalker from podrace to the early days of The Clone Wars to the fall of Jabba in Return of the Jedi.
Well, I can forward that timeline for you today: there are Hutts in The Force Awakens, we know because those Hutts have been practically built. I know there is more than one Hutt, but unsure how many exactly are going to show up. The process of constructing these Hutts began over a year ago, so you can imagine how my ears perked up when it was rumored that the Star Wars spin-off film would be “sharing assets” with The Force Awakens, despite being in different time periods. Last time I speculated this would mostly be ships and interiors, but how hard can it be to re-dress a Hutt? Reaching out to a source, I was told: “I’m sure their existence could have factored in to them being included, or the expenditure was made because it was all coordinated.” In other words: if JJ wanted expensive Hutts, it might have been okay since they could be used down the line.
How these Hutts are going to pop up is still in question. There were very early reports of concept art that featured Princess Leia meeting with the Hutts. That seems about right, considering she’s a Galactic politician and murdered Tatooine’s last lead Hutt in cold blood whilst in a metal slave bikini. Showing Leia dealing with that political situation would be a good way to show what a powerful politician she’s become.
The article also goes on to note that Gareth Edwards’s movie is in full swing at this point, and that Tatiana Maslany is the lead actress for it (whether or not she’s the lead role or just the leading lady is unclear right now).
But wait! There’s more! Jason Ward was able to describe a few more details on the scene:
I heard this same information very recently from someone I really respect. That person had it confirmed from someone reputable. But there is a little more to the story. I was told four to five Hutts were constructed using the same techniques from Return of the Jedi. The puppets appear in the same shot and it was insanely difficult to do.
He also notes that the guards described in the scene I quoted at the top of the article look like the soldiers that were seen in the Greenham Common leaks. As it stands, this sounds like a good sign of the kind of effort Lucasfilm and Disney are putting into the project – it took as many as five people to operate Jabba at a given time, and given that we’re seeing as many as five Hutts on the screen at once (all of which are operated through practical effects instead of CGI, as was the case in the Special Edition of A New Hope and The Phantom Menace), this could mean that up to twenty-five people went into operating the Hutts. That’s dedication to your craft, and I can’t wait to see this on the screen if these reports are true.