In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, fans finally got to get up and close with the enigmatic leader of the First Order.
While speaking with Yahoo! about their set for Snoke's throne room, production designer Rick Heinrichs and director Rian Johnson revealed how they revisited McQuarrie's unused concepts to realize the intimidating setting.
"There's an old Ralph McQuarrie image from the late '70s or early '80s of a Darth Vader throne room," said Heinrichs. "It's almost like a depiction of Hell — a throne with flames all around it."
Though the previous film in the franchise, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, used some of McQuarrie's concepts for Vader's castle on Mustafar, others were left out.
"We used it as a metaphorical inspiration: this sense of a supreme leader in an elevated position, but without getting too far away from the hellish aspect of what he represents. It is, if you will, a very elegant Hell," Heinrichs said.
The production designer revealed they put a lot of thought into how the Supreme Leader's throne room appeared to viewers.
"The idea of the floor is that it's kind of a black hole in a way; it swallows up light and humanity," Heinrichs said. "It's got a cold, harsh contrast and reflective look that defines their ethos and aesthetic. It's striking to see black and red together like that, and it makes Rey stand out in this kind of decadently extravagant throne room. It's a way of having this amazing look with very simple means."
Heinrichs spoke about how they had to achieve Johnson's vision with practical effects, hoping to film The Last Jedi much in the same way George Lucas completed the original trilogy. That was most difficult for the epic fight scene between Rey, Kylo Ren, and the Praetorian Guard.
"The way they do wirework these days is amazing," Heinrichs said. "Daisy [Ridley] was suspended from four pick points with a multiple 360-degree axis. We also had to plan for the fire; we wanted as much of it as possible to be real in the frame, but we also couldn't have a huge sheet of flames shooting up to the ceiling of a soundstage. So that's a combination of practical and virtual. There were these pits on set that people could accidentally fall into. In fact, the health and safety person fell backwards into one right after warning everybody to be careful! Maybe to demonstrate how dangerous it was."
Fans can see how dangerous that set was now; Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now playing in theaters.