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Winston Churchill is co-starring in Rogue One – at least in a spiritual sense.
On Thursday, a new behind-the-scenes featurette about the Dec. 16 movie was released, and buried within it was a shot of Diego Luna’s Captain Cassian Andor laughing it up with a somewhat familiar looking creature.
Everyone who saw Return of the Jedi knows the panic-stricken Rebel Admiral Ackbar, a boiled-lobster looking alien who cries out “It’s a trap!” when his fleet finds itself surrounded.
His amphibious race of was identified as Mon Calamari (all right, good one, George), although Ackbar was the only significant character of his kind to turn up in the feature films — there were others who appeared occasionaly in the background. Later, we saw him still in a position of command decades later in The Force Awakens.
In Rogue One, we’ll see other military leaders from this species, including the black-hued figure above – Admiral Raddus. His inspiration was the Prime Minster of the United Kingdom during World War II. The British Bulldog himself.
“We always tried to find a real world example of who these creatures may be, and in this case we used Churchill,” says Neal Scanlan, creature effects supervisor for the Star Wars franchise. “Admiral Raddus is a very strong figure. We would use [Churchill] not only as visual reference for his physical features, but also when it came to performing him and expressing him through the actor.”
This was a common practice on the movie. “You try to look at a famous actor, or a statesperson or something like that. Someone you could use,” Scanlan said.
While he can’t guarantee which background creatures actually end up in the finished cut, he said designers modeled aliens on iconic people like Bela Lugosi, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Van Cleef, and Peter Lorre.
“It helps to have someone to reference in the real world. It grounds our creatures and ideas,” Scanlan says. “We use these references to pull these creatures back and make them feel like they belong here in our world.”
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