C-3PO and R2-D2 have spent decades being the two most popular droids in the Star Wars universe for decades, but 2015's The Force Awakens delivered them a competitor in the form of BB-8. The adorable ball droid quickly became a fan favorite, and he returned to assist our main protagonists last month in The Last Jedi. It helps that the droid has a name that rolls off the tongue easily, but at one point, the Star Wars creative minds were considering other designations for the mechanical character, like Snow Girl or Globe. According to makeup artist and special effects expert Neal Scanlan:
We work absolutely during the production process with codes for secrecy. We then often have a retrospective phone call with Pablo (Hidalgo) and the guys and he'll ask 'what were you thinking about when you designed this character?' and I'll maybe say that this one is kind of like the actor John Candy, he's sweet at heart but he's this, this, and that, and we have a bit of fun playing with ideas and that's when we get to hear what their real names are. BB-8, for instance, started out as Snow Girl or Globe at one time -- there were four or five names for BB-8.
I doubt I'm alone in being grateful that Neal Scanlan and his team decided against going with Snow Girl and Globe, the latter especially being a little too on the nose. Traditionally designations for specific droid characters are a mix of letters and numbers, like K-2SO, IG-88, 2-1B, etc. BB-8 not only kept the trend going, but it's also the first of a brand-new class of droid in a galaxy far, far away. Well, new to us moviegoers anyway. In any case, as Scanlan later revealed in his interview with Endor Express, they didn't arrive at BB-8 until extremely late in the proverbial game. He continued:
BB-8 didn't come until VERY, very late, and that's probably for very good reasons as he's such an important character.
Better late than never, I suppose. Besides being ridiculously cute and the source of many funny moments in the new Star Wars trilogy, BB-8 has also been a tremendous asset to The Resistance, whether it's by accompanying Poe Dameron on his X-Wing runs or keeping the fragment of the map showing Luke Skywalker's location safe in The Force Awakens. But name recognition is crucial to helping ensure a character becomes popular, and thankfully, BB-8 was tossed in as a suggestion at the eleventh hour.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is still playing in theaters, so there's still time to watch/re-watch BB-8 fly with Poe Dameron and join Finn and Rose on their Canto Bight mission on the big screen. The droid is expected to roll back for one last appearance in Episode IX on December 20, 2019.