One of the more interesting aspects of the new Star Wars trilogy is the way each entry is being handled by a different director. That means that Rian Johnson had to pick up an existing universe and figure out how to make it his own. One would expect that the crews of the two Star Wars movies would talk and when they did Rian Johnson got one very important piece of advice. Use BB-8. Use BB-8 a lot. According to Johnson...
The best advice I got going into this whole process was from JJ's editors who told me 'You can't have enough BB-8.' And we followed their advice. He's the Buster Keaton of this movie. I'm excited for you guys to see what he does in this movie. It's pretty fun.
BB-8 was certainly a highlight for a lot of the fans as well as the film's editors. While droids have always been key to the stories told in Star Wars BB-8's use of physical comedy was something that we had not really seen before in the franchise. And since BB-8 never spoke, not in a way that the audience could understand anyway, that makes him the equivalent of a silent movie actor, thus the Buster Keaton reference that Rian Johnson made during the panel for The Last Jedi at Star Wars Celebration over the weekend. Our own Sean O'Connell was in attendance.
If you enjoyed BB-8 in Star Wars: The Force Awakens then it would appear you're going to like him even more in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. While we, of course, have no detail about exactly what BB-8 will be up to specifically, it appears the new film has found new stuff for him to do that will be humorous as well as exciting.
BB-8 was an interesting mix of computer generated droid and physical prop which gave the filmmakers of Star Wars: The Force Awakens the ability to do pretty much whatever they needed to do with him, while still giving the actors something to perform against. The digital aspect, however, gave them the ability to add in comedy bits later that they didn't even think up originally, as happened with the characters, "thumbs up" bit in the first film.
While the advice to do as much as possible with BB-8 came to Rian Johnson from the first film's editors, the original suggestion to give BB-8 lots of physical comedy moments actually came to J.J. Abrams from Pixar's John Lasseter. Apparently, at Disney, it all remains in the family.
We're certainly looking forward to seeing what Star Wars: The Last Jedi has in store for BB-8. The character was able to have a few moments in the last film that made us smile without taking away from the overall drama of the story. We'll get to see what Rian Johnson cooked up for BB-8 when Star Wars: The Last Jedi debuts in December.