Although Star Wars: The Force Awakens was certainly a dark tale, there were a fair amount of humorous moments in the midst of the action and tragedy. One of the movie's main sources of comedy was BB-8, the adorable ball droid who stole our hearts the minute we first saw him in the movie's teaser teaser. Among BB-8's more notable scenes was when he gave Finn a "thumbs up" using his built-in lighter. As it turns out, we have Pixar superstar John Lasseter to thank for that moment's creation.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens' 3D Collector's Edition will hit stores on November 15, and on its audio commentary, director J.J. Abrams revealed that the BB-8 thumbs-up scene was written during the movie's break period (brought on by Harrison Ford breaking his leg) after John Lasseter gave an important suggestion regarding BB-8 and comedy. Abrams said:
This was one of the scenes that was written in that three-weeks off period, and I really wanted it to have a screwball comedy vibe. During that time, I also talked to John Lasseter about BB-8, and about the movie. He really suggested giving BB-8 as much physical comedy as possible. And in the Pixar movies, you see just how brilliant that works for them. So this idea of the thumbs up was inspired by the conversation that I had with John. And I really do think it's the moment that BB-8 is really sort of galvanized as a character that [the audience] loves.
While John Lasseter wasn't directly involved in Star Wars: The Force Awakens' production, he's definitely someone you want to listen to when it comes to comedy for partially or completely animated characters. The man has worked on numerous Pixar and other kinds of animated Disney movies since the 1990s, whether as a director or executive producer. He's seen time and time again how the right kind of physical comedy can make a scene or even an entire movie more enjoyable. In the end, J.J. Abrams took Lasseter's advice to heart and had BB-8 give that sign of confirmation with his lighter when he decided to help Finn on the Millennium Falcon.
Obviously not having BB-8 make a thumbs-up wouldn't have altered The Force Awakens' story in any significant way, but for a few seconds, there was some welcome levity. I can't speak for everyone, but when I saw the movie in theaters, that moment drew a lot of laughs. It's also important to remember that since BB-8 only speaks in beeps, the only way he can express himself is through the tones of those noises and through his physical actions. It's a scene like that which makes him feel more like a character we can relate to, despite the fact that he's a machine.