Emphasizing the character arcs of its culturally iconic and ominous villains is one of the most intriguing aspects of the ‘Star Wars‘ feature film franchise. With the anticipated eighth installment of the action series, ‘The Last Jedi,’ set to be released later this year, writer-director Rian Johnson and production company Lucasfilm are offering new hints on who will be the next main antagonist. The villain will follow in the path of Adam Driver‘s Kylo Ren, who was the prominent antagonist in ‘The Last Jedi’s predecessor, 2015’s ‘The Force Awakens.’ The first entry in the ‘Star Wars’ sequel trilogy seemingly set up for Supreme Leader Snoke, who will be played by Andy Serkis, to take on the villainous duties in the follow-up.
After Snoke’s holographic version was featured in ‘The Force Awakens,’ fans immediately became interested in his upcoming trajectory in the series. However, the filmmaker has confirmed that ‘The Last Jedi‘ won’t fully reveal Snoke’s backstory. Johnson’s declaration comes after fans have begun speculating on what the Supreme Leader’s history is, and how he’s connected to the overall ‘Star Wars’ storyline.
While speaking with Entertainment Weekly (EW) for the magazine’s upcoming issue, which will feature Rey and Luke on the cover, Johnson discussed how he’ll approach including Kylo’s mentor into ‘The Last Jedi.’ During the interview, the helmer explained:
Similar to Rey’s parentage, Snoke is here to serve a function in the story. And a story is not a Wikipedia page. For example, in the original trilogy, we didn’t know anything about the Emperor except what Luke knew about him, that he’s the evil guy behind Vader. Then in the prequels, you knew everything about Palpatine because his rise to power was the story.
But Johnson did assure fans that ‘The Last Jedi’ will reveal exactly how much they’ll need to know about how Snoke fits into the second sequel’s plotline. The filmmaker’s declaration seemed to also promise that more answers about the Supreme Leader will be given in the second follow-up to ‘The Force Awakens,’ 2019’s ‘Star Wars: Episode IX.’
While not much information will be offered on ‘The Last Jedi’ purported main antagonist, his Praetorian Guard has officially been revealed. During ‘The Force Awakens,’ it became clear that the First Order had taken cues from the fallen Empire. In addition to harnessing the power of the dark side of the Force to establish control across the galaxy, Snoke has also taken Palpatine’s bodyguards. The Supreme Leader’s Praetorian Guard, who are donned in red, bear a striking similarity to Emperor Palpatine’s Royal Guard from ‘Return of the Jedi.’
Johnson wanted to make Snoke’s bodyguards more combat ready, however, which influenced their design. The director hasn’t revealed whether the Supreme Leader’s Praetorian Guard will be seen fighting in ‘The Last Jedi,’ but he did also tell EW that:
The Emperor’s guards were very formal, and you always got the sense that they could fight, but they didn’t. They looked like they were more ceremonial, and you never really saw them in action. The Praetorians, my brief to (costume designer) Michael Kaplan was that those guys have to be more like samurai. They have to be built to move, and you have to believe that they could step forward and engage if they have to. They have to seem dangerous.
Besides speculating over how much of Snoke’s backstory will be shared, and sharing the fact that the Praetorian Guard will be seen, on screen in ‘The Last Jedi,’ Johnson and Lucasfilm did reveal that Serkis’ performance will be shot via CGI. Instead of using prosthetics or any other practical effects to bring the antagonistic character to the screen, Snoke will be brought to the screen by an entirely motion capture (mo-cap) performance.
The filmmaker also explained to EW:
(Creature designer) Neal Scanlan built a maquette that we had on set for lighting reference and to give the actors a sense of what it was going to feel like. Then we scanned that and (Industrial Light & Magic) used that in their renderings, but Snoke will be an entirely CG creation.
Serkis, who found previous success in mo-cap roles in such projects as the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Planet of the Apes’ film trilogies, will surely bring an intriguing complexity to Snoke. ‘Star Wars’ fans will get to see the full scope of the Supreme Leader when ‘The Last Jedi’ is distributed in theaters on December 15.