When the first teaser for The Force Awakens debuted and audiences saw BB-8 rolling across the screen, everything we thought we know about
“BB-8 has this huge personality and this huge heart, but you know, in a sense, I’ve always found it to have a sort of slightly manipulative quality,” Neal Scanlan, head of the Star Wars creature shop, told Entertainment Weekly. “With BB-9E, we go back to literally the cold First Order sort of Empire version of what a BB unit might be. This was much more cold, calculative, much more direct.”
While BB-9E might look like your standard BB ball-droid unit, a few different modifications make it far from ordinary. Unlike your rounded-off top of the BB-8 unit, this version has a flattened head that has only one "eye." That eye's center has an ominous red glow, an homage to HAL 9000 from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Another difference with this specific droid is its paint job, which is black and white instead of the more playful orange and white. BB-9E also has chrome accents, which, when combined with the red and blue lights on its head, are specifically meant to resemble the look of a '60s cop car to create a "patrolling element," according to Scanlan.
The stakes for these droids might seem low, as they aren't taking on massive roles in the upcoming Last Jedi, but Scanlan assured that BB units' color schemes were meant to reflect the flight suits of X-Wing pilots and Vader's shiny black exterior.
"There’s a lovely moment between BB-8 and BB-9E, which tells that sort of parallel story of Vader and Luke,” Scanlan pointed out.
It's unclear at this point if the two BB units will actually go head-to-head, as we don't often see droids engage in combat, or if Scanlan merely hinted at the pair bumping into one another to mirror the different choices characters make and how that can result in vastly different paths.
Whatever their journeys might be, we'll see more of the droids when The Last Jedi hits theaters on December 15.
[H/T Entertainment Weekly]