John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China inspired The Rise of Skywalker character Babu Frik. The little character wasn't in the movie a whole lot, but he helped the Resistance out quite a bit, thanks to the relationship between Zorii Bliss and Poe Dameron. When it came down to designing characters for the latest trilogy, creature designer and sculptor Ivan Manzella took inspiration from all over the place, including John Carpenter and the Star Wars franchise.
When it came time to design Bab Frik, Ivan Manzella started to think back to John Carpenter's cult classic Big Trouble in Little China. Specifically, he was thinking of the late great actor Victor Wong, who played Egg Shen in the movie. Now, it's going to be really hard to watch The Rise of Skywalker and not think of Egg Shen. Manzella had this to say.
"When I was designing him, I did the maquette, and I did a series of eight or nine heads in different expressions, and then I was basing it on Victor Wong from Big Trouble in Little China, Egg Shen, and that's who I saw in my head all the time. So, in my mind, it was always Victor Wong. That's sort of how it evolved in my head. I never imagined him with that voice, but it worked so well and that's a big part of his charm, as well. I think those two things came together just really, really well."
When it comes down to it, Ivan Manzella's design work and Shirley Henderson's voice performance is what brought Babu Frik to life. Henderson is probably best-known for playing "Moaning Myrtle" from the Harry Potter franchise. The actress teased a pretty big backstory for Frik, noting that he "Somewhere out there is a lost love. He thinks about her sometimes when he sits down in his workshop and lets his thoughts drift away. That's what I think, anyway."
Ivan Manzella even had a hand at helping to bring the not-so-mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke to life on the big screen. However, when it came time to bring the villainous Snoke from out behind the hologram, Manzella was diving deep into the history of Star Wars, which a lot of fans seemed to notice right off the bat, resulting in rumors. Manzella had this to say about his inspiration for Snoke's look.
"I actually based him on Peter Cushing. Because there were always Snoke theories that he was Grand Moff Tarkin, which I always found quite amusing. You can see there are elements there. The maquette, there's elements of Peter Cushing, just the cheekbone and the profile and stuff, but he wasn't meant to be Peter Cushing. He was my Hammer reference, kind of thing."
For a while, there was a decent amount of Star Wars fans who believed that Snoke was actually Grand Moff Tarkin. It's good to know that the rumors were actually based on some intentional design, and not just a whim. It's always interesting to hear about how certain designs came to be and even more interesting when fans are able to spot the inspiration without being privy to them beforehand. The interview with Ivan Manzella was originally conducted by the Force Material podcast.