Last week, Empire Magazine began sharing bits and pieces from it's extensive new issue on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which hits newsstands today. First, they showed us a gatefold cover that featured all of the new villains. Then they returned with a second cover that introduced the three new heroes. They also offered more insight into Knights of Ren's Kylo, played by Adam Driver, with a never-before-seen photo and some backstory. Now, they are offering up three more behind-the-scenes photos featuring John Boyega as AWOL Stormtrooper and ball droid BB-8, who has become a quick favorite with fans. About the robot's creation, concept designer Christian Alzmann explained more.
"J.J. wanted something rolling on a sphere, so I tried a lot of different designs developing that idea. He would give direction on the kinds of shapes to use, and that led to a personality for the droid. Of course, the original sketch had very pleasing, round shapes, so you kind of figured it wasn't going to be a very serious or angry character. Ultimately, BB-8 developed out of a back-and-forth process with J.J. where he gave feedback on each iteration of the design."
When first introduced in the teaser trailer, many believed BB-8 to be a CGI effect. But the droid is a practical effect that works and rolls on set just as we see him in the movie. He's a much more highly advanced piece of hardware than R2-D2 and C-3PO, and he was developed with a strong personality in mind. He will definitely have an attitude and a style all his own. But it wasn't easy to come by. In a new profile on StarWars.com, puppeteers Dave Chapman and Brian Herring reveal they were responsible for drawing life out of this colorful sphere. Says Brian Herring.
BB-8 can cock his head over and look away, he can double take, he can look scared, he can look angry. We managed to find a whole vocabulary of movement for him, if you will. We worked out a whole bunch of stuff. What would he do if you turned him off? What happens to his head if you power him down? Does he go down stairs? Does he go up stairs?
BB-8 will be quite the character in every literal sense. He conveys a full range of emotions, from joy and happiness to fear and sadness. He even displays curiosity, an esoteric feeling that was quite the trick to accomplish. He reacts naturally to his surroundings, with the puppeteers spending weeks trying to get him just right. This process required extensive camera tests.
Some early photos indicated that BB-8 is Rey's (Daisy Ridley) droid. But piecing together various officially released photos, it seems as though she discovers the robot in the desert sands of Jakku while scavenging for various treasures she can later sell. The first Hasbro toy catalogue reveals that BB-8 is actually Poe Dameron's X-Wing Astro-Mech droid, and they've somehow become separated.
BB-8 graces the subscriber's special edition cover of Empire. They've also released two new photos of John Boyega on set. One features him still wearing his Stormtrooper uniform. While the other puts him in Resistance garb. To get the full story, be sure to pick up this month's issue of Empire, available now.