What Went Into Making Star Wars: The Last Jedi's Milking Scene

Mark Hamill in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Warning: The following contains minor spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. So if you haven't seen it and fear any spoilers, come back later.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is full of moments that make the movie stand out as a singular entry in the long-running saga. Whether you find the film's uniqueness is part of what makes it a masterpiece or the thing that makes it not feel like Star Wars is up for debate, and I have a hunch it will be debated. One of the film's most jarring moments came as Rey followed Luke around Ahch-To as he went about his daily routine. Luke walked down to the ocean where a sea cow-type creature was perched on the rocks. The wise and powerful Jedi Master then proceeded to milk the animal before taking a swig of its green milk, shattering Rey's mental image of the legendary figure. It turns out that this creature was done practically, and even the teats were real, as The Last Jedi visual effects artist Neal Scanlan recently explained.

Neal Scanlan is on the front lines in terms of making Star Wars films, and while most of the new creatures were done practically, including that milking scene, there was one component that was also fleshed out a little behind-the-scenes. Per Scanlan,

[The milk] was tinted later with CG to make it slightly more disgusting.

It is kind of funny that the creature effects team went through the trouble of making a practical creature that you could actually milk, but when it came to coloring the milk green, they said 'Ah we'll do it in post'. Maybe they watched the footage and decided it wasn't gross enough. This is just a small part of what went in to creating this memorable scene. Neal Scanlan told the Los Angeles Times that the team built an animatronic of the creature that weighed three-quarters of a ton and had to be helicoptered in to sit against the real island cliffs to shoot the scene. Shooting on location and having the real ocean spray and natural lighting was important to bringing the creatures and the scene to life. The creature, called a Thala-siren, seemed super open to Luke just walking up and milking her and according to Neal Scanlan, she was.

She comes there every day to give milk to [Luke]. He looks after them; they trust him.

The Jedi Master is one with the force and a friend to the animals. It's no surprise he prefers their company to humans who are so susceptible to the dark side. The practicality of the Thala-Siren and her milk is just another example of the emphasis these new Star Wars films have placed on practical effects. Obviously The Last Jedi has a ton of CG imagery but where something could be done practically, it was, even if it required helicoptering in a massive animatronic sea sow in for one scene that would make audiences squirm. This practicality lends a much greater tangibility to the film and hearkens back to the original trilogy. The milking of the Thala-Siren also now stands as one of the most memorable moments of the film. You may not remember all of Canto Bight or the Admiral Holdo stuff, but the milking? You remember the milking scene, well, that and the throne room.

To see the legendary Jedi Master Luke Skywalker getting his vitamins straight from the source, go see Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in theaters now. And, in case you're wondering, the milking scene is far less jarring but just as gross on a second viewing.

Nick Evans

Nick grew up in Maryland has degrees in Film Studies and Communications. His life goal is to walk the earth, meet people and get into adventures. He’s also still looking for The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD if anyone has a lead.