BB-8 Puppeteer Wraps Star Wars: Episode IX After 5-Year 'Amazing Ride'

Is BB-8 saying goodbye for now or forever after Star Wars: Episode IX? It's the end of the new trilogy, but with Disney+ coming, and standalone movies hitting theaters, it's hard to imagine this is really The End.

Brian Herring is one of the puppeteers and lead performer behind BB-8. You may not think of the process that goes into creating the character, but it has been his life -- and his dream -- for the past five years. Now that many stars are wrapping their roles on Star Wars: Episode IX, Herring took a moment to thank the Lucasfilm team and look back fondly on his journey:

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What a joy. Brian Herring joined the creature shop for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which was directed by J.J. Abrams. Abrams returned to direct Episode IX, which has yet to reveal its title. Herring's BB-8 was also part of the saga in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson.

Brian Herring also worked on other creatures in the Star Wars galaxy, including Porgs, Fathiers, and the sea cows Luke Skywalker milked. Herring shared BB-8 puppeteer duty with Dave Chapman. And did you know Bill Hader and Ben Schwartz were both credited as "BB-8 vocal consultants" in The Force Awakens?

Brian Herring has a great interview on from March 2018, talking about the differences as a puppeteer going from operating a droid puppet to operating an organic creature like a Porg. He also talked about why it's important to have the practical effects puppets versus just using CGI for the movies:

Practical effects on set, I think, are so important because the actors have something to react to, but also the audience can tell if something’s not there. [...] There was a shot in The Force Awakens, where Chewbacca is on the gurney and Finn is trying to help him and BB-8 comes in. And I whizzed it in at one point and I hit a crate and I said, "Sorry, JJ! I hit the crate." He went, “Hit the crate every time you come in because it shows you’re there.” It shows you’re real and people can invest more. You do get brilliant performances, like Gollum [played by Snoke actor Andy Serkis], where you have a human performance. And all these things work best when you have a performance at the heart of them. That’s not to say that the animators aren’t awesome at what they do, but even if they have to go in and fix it digitally later, they have something organic and it’s the imperfections that make things perfect.

Good points! BB-8 is not the only droid saying his goodbyes right now. Anthony Daniels just shared his own farewell, after playing C-3PO since the very first Star Wars movie back in 1977. But it's also not clear if his goodbye was for now or forever. After all, once Return of the Jedi completed the first trilogy in 1983, no one really saw six more movies coming to the big screen with the prequels and now this new trilogy.

Star Wars: Episode IX has yet to reveal its true title or any first look footage at this point, and we're not expecting tomorrow's Super Bowl to change that. So we wait. The movie arrives in theaters on December 20, as one of the many releases of 2019.

Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.