The U.S. President Who Loosely Inspired Supreme Leader Snoke's Look

J.J. Abrams couldn’t have predicted how much attention Star Wars fans have paid to the new characters introduced in The Force Awakens. Sure, there was a nostalgic rush to seeing Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Leia (Carris Fisher) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) back in action. But fans have spent the weeks following the release of The Force Awakens analyzing Poe, Finn, Rey, Kylo Ren and, especially, Supreme Leader Snoke, looking for any new detail. Well, we have some more Snoke information for you.

During a recent conversation with ILM visual effects artists Rogert Guyett and Pat Tubach, we probed for specific details on the mysterious Snoke. In doing so, we learned that a large part of his visual presentation was lifted from Abraham Lincoln… or, specifically, the monument to Lincoln that sits in Washington, DC. As Guyett told me:

Imagine when you’re a kid or whatever, you go up and you stand in front of the Lincoln Memorial. And you see old Lincoln in a huge chair. There’s a certain quality about that. So, that was certainly sort of part of the inspiration for it all. But I think, hologram, you know? The idea really in that opening scene is sort of like, ‘What is going on here. Ok, it’s a hologram. Is he really this big?’ OK, once you figure out that it’s a hologram, of course it’s like, ‘Well how big is he?’

"Honest" Abe Lincoln certainly stood taller than most, and it has been implied in various articles that Snoke, in his normal (non-hologram) form is taller than the rest. It’s nice that Guyett and Tubach confirm Snoke’s use of hologram technology – putting that rumor of him possibly being a "Force Ghost" to rest. They also talked a bit about how advancements in the technology might have affected how Snoke presented himself, It certainly affected how they, as visual artists, approached making him appear when he spoke with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson). Guyett explained:

At the end of that first scene [with Snoke], it kind of really gives it away, because obviously he disappears, like a classic hologram. But the idea is the holographic technology is really way more advanced than the… we’ve traveled 30 years in time, so you’re seeing a hologram. The thing that I think will be revealed in future movies is more of, you know, you’re probably seeing more of Snoke. Obviously he’s an ongoing character and a lot of those things I think your fans and people on your site or whatever are analyzing, will be discussed. A lot of that stuff will be revealed in the future. But I mean, he is a hologram.I think one thing that is interesting, too, is just the nature of how he ended up looking, that kind of came out of a lot of exploration. Just our lighting tests, just starting to light that chamber and figure out, kind of, what did that light do in there. Seeing him so dramatically backlit like that is something that I think was kind of inspirational. Because there is, realizing that, ‘Hey, if you reduce a lot of the color down and you just make this very visceral, black-and-white silhouetted character, he gets that much more menacing.’ His size, you know, already makes him menacing, and then you have this sort of [effect of] you can’t quite see what you’re looking at all the time. I think it really adds to his mystique.

Supreme Leader Snoke appears to be a driving force (no pun intended) of the new trilogy that JJ Abrams started with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. His look is partially inspired by Abraham Lincoln and the Lincoln Memorial, and he’s definitely a hologram. How much power will he wield? What role will he play in Kylo Ren’s development? We’ll find out more when Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII hits theaters on May 26, 2017.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.