The sprawling adventure seen in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker included a large ensemble of new and old characters, with the film's finale still leaving some questions about the fates of lesser-seen characters, as creature effects creative supervisor Neal Scanlan recently claimed that Steven Spielberg might be the reason Babu Frik survived the adventure. Scanlan made it clear that he didn't know definitively that Spielberg was to thank for the character's salvation, though concept artist Ivan Manzella echoed the sentiment that Babu's original plans were to die on Kijimi until director J.J. Abrams ultimately decided to show him in Zorii Bliss' ship in the major final battle.
"It could be a rumor, but I believe J.J. screened the movie for Steven Spielberg, and at the end Spielberg said, 'What happened to Babu?'" Scanlan shared with Empire. "Everybody thought, 'Oh God, what did happen to Babu?'"
Babu might not have ever earned a glorious death, with his demise occurring when Kijimi was destroyed.
"I think he was going to die originally – I think the AD shot that," Manzella pointed out. "When the planet [Kijimi] was blown up, he was on it."
Scanlan went on to detail that seeing Babu in Zorii's ship in the final battle wasn't how that sequence was originally filmed, with ILM using digital trickery to insert the droidsmith into the shot.
"We shot several other sequences," Scanlan confirmed. "The ILM guys found one, lifted out Babu and put him into Zorii's ship at the end."
This isn't the only way the character's on-screen appearance changed from his original plans, as Scanlan previously detailed that the character was meant to serve as a medium in some versions of the film.
"The real idea from J.J. was that little Babu would be a character very much like he is in the film, but not necessarily doing the job that he's doing in the film," Scanlan explained to Collider. "He was much more of a kind of a medium almost. Originally, Rey went to see Babu in order to find some information and he almost would exist in an environment very specifically tailored to his own size, so almost scaled to him. So when we started to design Babu—Ivan Manzella designed him, and he was costumed very differently than what you see in the final movie. So as a character, he was there very, very early on in J.J.'s world, the role that he played changed several times."
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is available now on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD.