'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Creature Designer on Creating the Fathiers

The latest film in the Star Wars saga was filled with many memorable creatures, but while porgs [...]

The latest film in the Star Wars saga was filled with many memorable creatures, but while porgs and crystal foxes seem to be dominating the conversation, the "space horses" called fathiers are also a memorable addition.

Neal Scanlan, the creature designer of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, recently spoke with Collider about creating the racing animals kept in captivity on Canto Bight.

"The strongest thing about building an animatronic or practical version is that we knew that when Rose first meets these Fathiers that it was a really, really important scene, not only within the story but for her, too," said Scanlan, "and we really felt that the best way of doing that was doing it as a practical effect. What practical effects are very good at doing are things that are relatively ground bound.

"We know that we can't make a full-sized Fathier run around a racetrack or through the streets of Canto Bight, but what we do know is that we can introduce Rose to these creatures and introduce the audience to these creatures for real, for the first time, and try to build that emotion and connection between the two, there on the screen."

In that initial introduction, audiences witness the heart of the creatures as well as the abuse they endure, causing them to root for their release from captivity with the help of the Resistance members.

Scanlan knew after that initial scene, they'd have a lot more leeway for the action sequences created with the help of the CG wizards at Industrial Light & Magic.

"So, we built the animatronic to be in the shadows inside the stable, and Rose and Finn approach it," Scanlan said. "There was a trolley version that we were able to push forward, that had an animatronic head with ears and eyes, to play that scene with Rose. Once the actors have got that image and that reality in their heads, it really helps them when they go to do the process work later.

"When they're sitting on a much more reduced version in front of a blue screen, they still understand the creature that they're relating to. And then, we built a fully articulated animatronic version that we were able to use for part of those sequences, to help really sell the CG. They did get to ride on a full size Fathier. It just didn't run around."

Learning about the work that goes into these Star Wars scenes always increases the appreciation of the movies, especially hearing from the people who endured these labors of love.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now playing in theaters.