Ever since the first Star Wars film released in theaters over 40 years ago, there's been a tradition of including exotic aliens with very strange names. Some of those titles came from the toy makers, but now that burden comes to the creature designers and Lucasfilm's Story Group.
New droid BB-8, who took the world by storm after debuting in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, didn't have a name until late into the production process, according to creature designer Neal Scanlan.
Before settling on the name BB-8, the droid was referred to as "Snow Girl" during the production.
"We work absolutely during the production process with codes for secrecy," Scanlan told Endor Express. "We then often have a retrospective phone call with Pablo (Hidalgo, Story Group executive) and the guys and he’ll ask 'what were you thinking about when you designed this character?' and I’ll maybe say that this one is kind of like the actor John Candy, he’s sweet at heart but he’s this, this, and that, and we have a bit of fun playing with ideas and that’s when we get to hear what their real names are.
"BB-8, for instance, started out as Snow Girl or Globe at one time – there were four or five names for BB-8. BB-8 didn’t come until VERY, very late, and that’s probably for very good reasons as he’s such an important character."
It's pretty interesting that BB-8, and presumably the concept of "BB units," came later in the production process, because the names perfectly suit the little ball droids. Snow Globe fits for the visual distinction of the character, but BB-8 just works — and fits into the naming scheme for many of the droids in the Star Wars universe.
Scanlan and his team have been responsible for many of the droids and creatures in every Star Wars movie since Disney purchased Lucasfilm. They'll be hard at work for the next few years with Solo: A Star Wars Story gearing up for release and work set to begin on Star Wars: Episode IX.
You can see their latest work in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, now playing in theaters.